Gainesville’s starting rotation has strung together quite the pitching line against Clarke Central in two years of Region 8-AAAAA meetings. A year after Gainesville pitchers tossed a pair of no-hitters against the Gladiators, senior Chandler Newton gave up just two hits in a complete-game, 12-2 victory in five innings on Wednesday at Ivey-Watson Field.
“Chandler did a better job of going right after guys tonight,” Gainesville coach Jeremy Kemp said.
In 2013, Red Elephants pitchers Michael and Jonathan Gettys achieved a two-game, no-hit sweep of the Gladiators.
Gainesville (13-6, 7-2 Region 8-AAAAA) visits Clarke Central on Friday for the final meeting between the two clubs in 2014.
Two strong defensive plays by Gainesville kept Clarke Central hitless through three innings. Drew Wright had a diving catch to his left in left field with one out in the second, and Newton got off the mound to field a bunt down the first base line and delivered the throw to first in time for the out in the third.
Newton retired the first seven hitters he faced in order before allowing a one-out walk in the third. The Red Elephants’ left-hander allowed the first of two hits with a grounder to deep shortstop that didn’t draw a throw to first with two outs in the fourth inning.
Newton allowed only a pair of walks, while striking out four.
With five runs crossing the plate for Gainesville in the first inning, Newton had all the run support he needed.
Luke Maddox had a double just inside the bag down the third base line and came in to score on an RBI single by Michael Gettys.
Also in the first inning, Red Elephants catcher Michael Curry had an RBI double, and Harrison Styles roped a single to center field that plated another pair of runs.
“Luke got us going with that big hit early,” Kemp said. “Five runs in the first inning was huge.”
In the second inning, the Red Elephants plated seven runs after six walks — four straight to start the inning from the top of the batting order.
Wright had the only hit in the second for the Red Elephants on a two-strike double that plated the fifth run of the inning.
Sims Griffith reached next on a fly ball between center and right field that was dropped, scoring the final two runs of the inning.
Michael Gettys reached in all three plate appearances: an RBI single in the first and a pair of walks in the second.
For Gainesville, the win is coming at the right time to keep the momentum alive from Tuesday’s crucial 9-6 win to avoid being swept by Loganville, who currently sits in first in the region standings.
With a sweep against Winder-Barrow, who sits fourth in the region standings, the Red Elephants have won four out of their last five in region play.
Late in March, Gainesville had six games over four days against some of the nation’s best at the National High School Baseball Invitational in Cary, N.C.
“That 12-game deal was about the hardest we’ve had in a while,” Kemp said.
Even though the Red Elephants have played some of the toughest in Region 8-AAAAA, it doesn’t necessarily get any easier before the regular season ends. Gainesville still has two-game sets remaining against a scrappy Salem and current third-place holder Heritage.