The chill in the air Thursday did nothing to cool down the Gainesville baseball team or junior Michael Gettys.
The righthander hurled the first no-hitter of his high school career to lead the Red Elephants to a five-inning, 11-0 win over Habersham Central at Ivey Watson Field in Gainesville.
Over two starts, Gettys has pitched 10 innings and allowed just one hit. Thursday he struck out six, walked one and hit another while trying his best to ignore the cold.
“I just go out there to pitch,” he said. “I try not to think about the weather, even if the cold makes it hard to grip my pitches.
“And I give all the glory to God.”
After the performance he had in the cold — temperatures were around 40 degrees at game time, not to mention the wind chill — he might be hoping for more winter weather.
The cold didn’t seem to much impact the rest of the team either, as Gainesville improved to 3-0 on the season and has thus far outscored its opponents 32-1.
In truth, a good offseason has led to the good start, Gettys said.
“I feel really good this year, I feel like I’ve gotten a lot stronger pitching and hitting,” he said. “Everybody’s working hard preparing for this year — it’s a big year for us.”
The Red Elephants are coming off a season in which they won 31 consecutive games but were upset in the state semifinals. A couple of last year’s stars graduated, including pitcher David Gonzalez and second baseman Stephen Mason. But Gainesville is once again entering as a state title contender.
The newcomers to Class AAAAA looked like a contender Thursday against the Class AAAAAA Raiders.
Red Elephants sophomore Caleb Whitenton led the offense, going 2 for 2 with a walk and six RBIs, including a bases-clearing double to break the game open in the second inning and push the lead to 7-0.
The sophomore was the starting designated hitter last season but moved to first base for his second year, a move which paid off Thursday.
“I like (first base) because it keeps me warm,” Whitenton said. “Especially when it’s 40 degrees at game time.”
He said it was his best game of the young season after a slow start. He added a two-run single in the first inning to make it 3-0 after catcher Skyler Weber opened the scoring with an RBI double to left field to score leadoff hitter Sims Griffith, and he pushed in the 10th run on a bases-loaded walk in the third.
By that point Habersham Central (1-1) was already on its third and final pitcher of the night.
Gettys, on the other hand, has finished both games he’s started this season.
“He’s pitched good,” Gainesville coach Jeremy Kemp said of his star junior. “He’s really improved, and he had a great offseason that’s carried over into the season.
“We’ve liked what we’ve seen so far.”
Gettys started his second start with a quick 1-2-3 inning, capped off by a line drive that Gainesville freshman second baseman Fredrick Cardona snared for the out. In the second, Gainesville committed its only error of the night on a hard-hit ball to right field, allowing Habersham Central’s leadoff man to reach safely. Gettys responded by striking out the next three batters in a row to retire the side, getting the first batter looking and the next two swinging.
He worked around a hit batter in the third, inducing three groundouts, two of which he personally fielded to get the out. He pitched a second 1-2-3 inning in the fourth and worked around a leadoff walk in the fifth, earning his final strikeout between a pair of groundouts. His final pitch was grounded out to Griffith at shortstop, who fired to Whitenton to secure the no-hitter.
Only one Habersham Central batter, first baseman Nathan Harvey, was able to even hit the ball out of the infield when he reached on the lone error. Raiders starting pitcher Dylan Dalton took the loss, allowing nine runs in 1 1/3 innings.
Nick Foster relieved him in the second and retired the final two batters of the inning. Patrick Taylor pitched the final three innings, allowing two earned runs and picking up the second of two strikeouts by Gainesville batters, who finished with nine total hits.
Weber finished 3 for 3 with a pair of doubles and RBIs. Chandler Newton, Jonah Crocker and Mason McNair also drove in runs.
Gainesville plays Archer next on Monday in Lawrenceville. Habersham Central plays host to Cedar Shoals at 5:55 tonight in Mount Airy.