Gainesville’s Will Maddox couldn’t help but walk around with a big smile on his face after Monday’s 14-4 win against Chestatee at Ivey Watson Field.
The sophomore was in a bit of disbelief that his first career home run cleared the center field fence with the bases loaded in a region game.
"I didn’t think it was going out at first," Maddox said. "I was so happy when I knew it was out."
Maddox flirted with a home run earlier in the game with a second-inning RBI double to center field, scoring Ryan Griffith from second base. In the process, Maddox may have turned over a new leaf for the Gainesville program, which entered the game without a home run all season.
Maddox wasn’t the only one hitting home runs for Gainesville (2-4, 2-3 Region 7-AAA).
Sloan Strickland stepped to the plate and connected on a solo home run for the Red Elephants immediately after Maddox. Then in the sixth inning, David Gonzalez hit a walk-off home run, stopping the game at the 10-run limit.
Gainesville coach Jeremy Kemp isn’t surprised that his program found a way to break loose with this kind of offensive outing. The Red Elephants finished the night with 12 hits — six of which were doubles.
"This team has all kinds of potential," Kemp said. "They’re working hard and continuing to improve."
Maddox’s two-out RBI double was part of a five-run second inning, that gave Gainesville a 6-2 lead. Gonzalez and Anderson Loggins each hit singles to start the inning and advanced to second and third on a passed ball. Then with runners in scoring position, Griffith put a perfectly placed bloop single in shallow right field that scored both runners.
Mark Casper also added an RBI double in the second with another runner scoring on a fielding error. He finished the game with a pair of doubles for the Red Elephants.
Maddox, Gonzalez, Loggins and Griffith also finished the game with two hits each for Gainesville.
"I think this kind of game shows we can hit the ball and will give us some confidence," Maddox said.
Senior Erik Tarnacki earned the complete-game victory for Gainesville, collecting seven strikeouts on the mound. The highlight of his performance was the fact he set down 12 of the final 13 War Eagles he faced, after struggling in the first three innings to keep the ball down in the strike zone.
"Erik got a little tired out there and started focusing on his mechanics," Kemp said. "He’s been our best pitcher this season."
Tarnacki managed to get past Chestatee’s early hitting, which produced two runs in each the second and third inning. Spenser Gruenenfelder had a two-run double for the War Eagles (2-2, 2-2) in the second inning. Then with two runners on in the third, the War Eagles scored two more as a result of a fielding error.
Gruenenfelder and Scott Chewning each finished with two hits for Chestatee. Matt Miller and Jeremy Wilkins each added one hit for the War Eagles.
Gainesville visits Johnson at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. Chestatee plays host to Lumpkin County at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.