A week ago to the day, Will Maddox hit his first career home run; he one-upped himself Tuesday with a simple ground ball to center field.
With the score tied 7-7 in the bottom of the eighth inning against rival North Hall, Maddox hit the first pitch he saw up the middle that scored Tai-ler Jones from second, giving the Red Elephants an 8-7 walk-off win.
“I was looking fastball the whole way,” said the sophomore second baseman. “He threw me a change up and I had to adjust.
“We needed this win so bad,” added Maddox, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI, a stolen base and two runs scored. “This will send us in the right direction and hopefully we can go on a winning streak. We have the team to do it.”
Maddox’s game-ending heroics was set up by Jones, who connected on a pinch-hit single to start the eighth inning, and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Stephen Mason.
“Tai-ler’s been battling injury that’s why he didn’t start,” Gainesville coach Jeremy Kemp said. “He’s somebody that can really help us out.”
Jones and Maddox needed to help out Gainesville (4-5, 4-4 Region 7-AAA) due to the Trojans’ five-run comeback.
Mustering only one hit through the first four innings — a two-run home run by Jackson Coker in the fourth — North Hall (4-5, 4-3) rallied by sending eight batters to the plate and scoring four runs in the sixth inning.
Three bloop singles to start the inning loaded the bases for North Hall and an RBI fielder’s choice by Coker scored one run, a single by Davis Partrick scored another, and the big blow of the inning came off the bat of Ryan Pitts, whose two-run double made it a one-run game.
“From the sixth inning on we had a better approach at the plate,” North Hall coach Trent Mongero said. “The guys were confident we weren’t out of it.”
That confidence was portrayed in the top of the seventh when the Trojans tied the game on an RBI single by Trey Pinson that scored K.J. McAllister from second base.
Pinson’s single ruined the night of Gainesville starter Erik Tarnacki, who pitched seven innings and struck out five. But despite throwing more than 100 pitches, the senior southpaw didn’t regret going out for the seventh inning; he wanted the win.
“I felt good,” Tarnacki said of his condition entering the seventh inning. “I was real disappointed that I couldn’t get the win, but I had faith in Andy (Edmondson) and in our bats.”
Edmondson came on in relief of Tarnacki in the eighth and retired the Trojans in order.
“Both teams battled,” Tarnacki said. “We battled just a little bit harder and came out on top.”
Gainesville appeared as if it was going to cruise to the win by scoring seven runs in the first five innings.
The Red Elephants scored two in the first on a Mark Casper single that plated Maddox and Sloan Strickland; they scored one in the second on a sac fly from Ryan Griffith that plated David Gonzalez; and the big inning came in the fourth, when they scored three runs on a RBI ground out by Stephen Mason, a dropped third strike that scored Edmondson and an RBI double by Strickland. Strickland finished 2-for-3 with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored.
North Hall was led by Pinson (2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored) and Coker, who finished 1-for-3 with a home run, three RBIs and two runs scored.
“I feel like we’re one element away from being a real good team,” Mongero said. “I’m proud of the boys for fighting back and we’ll take that positive and build on it.”
Gainesville’s coach is also hoping to build on the win.
“This puts us right back in the race,” Kemp said. “I love North Hall because they always make these games interesting. Those guys played hard and played a great game.”
Both teams have a quick turnaround with games tonight when North Hall plays host to West Hall at 5:55 p.m. and Gainesville visits Pickens.