Shad Petree just made the depth of Gainesville's starting pitching rotation look even stronger.
In his first appearance in a starting role this season, the senior Petree pitched six innings with 11 strikeouts and one walk in a 6-5 win against Johnson (4-4, 2-2 Region 8-AAA South) on Wednesday at Ivey-Watson Field.
Gainesville (9-0, 4-0) coach Jeremy Kemp opted for Petree in the starting role after a long rain delay Monday at Walnut Grove altered his staff, along with a rain out last Friday against White County that was played the following day.
"Shad did an unbelievable job today," Kemp said.
In his first pitching appearance of the season, senior Stephen Mason entered the game in the seventh for the second-ranked Red Elephants and earned the save, despite the Knights moving a runner to third base with two outs in the top of the seventh inning.
Mason hadn't pitched previously in the regular season due to a shoulder injury during a slide in Gainesville's preseason scrimmage against Lambert.
In the seventh, Trae Wilson reached for Johnson on a one-out walk and advanced to second on a balk by the pitcher.
Then, with runners on the corners with two outs, Mason recorded the final out of the game on a strikeout.
After a rocky first inning where the Knights scored a pair of runs, Petree settled down and didn't allow another hit until the fourth inning on a single by Jackson Frazer.
Petree only allowed a pair of earned runs and pitched around a pair of fielding errors that led to three runs for the Knights.
"We didn't play great defense tonight, which isn't characteristic of our team, but it didn't faze Shad," Kemp said.
"It really helped me when (third baseman) Hunter Anglin came over and talked to me during the game to help keep me calm," Petree said.
Gainesville's biggest inning offensively was when it scored three runs with two outs in the second inning.
After Sims Griffith reached on a single, Mason connected on an RBI double to deep center field. Michael Gettys kept the inning alive when he reached on an infield error that scored Mason.
Red Elephants catcher Skyler Weber finished the inning with an RBI double, before he was thrown out trying to stretch his extra-base hit into a triple.
Weber had a lead off double for Gainesville in the fifth inning, moved to third on a ground out and scored on a pass ball.
Trailing 6-3 in the top of the sixth, Johnson battled back for a pair of runs. Brandon Adams led off the inning for the Knights, reaching base on a strikeout when the ball got past the catcher, then senior A.J. Benefield got on after being hit by a pitch.
With Johnson runners on first and second, Jordan Green dropped a single just beyond second base that loaded the bases.
Both of the Knights' runs in the sixth inning scored when Adam White reached on a routine ground ball that wasn't fielded cleanly.
Chris White had a solo home run for Johnson in the fifth inning.
"I talked with the team coming over here to Gainesville about just giving ourselves a chance to win," Johnson coach Tony Wilson said. "Even though we didn't swing the bats particularly well, we kept competing."
On Friday, Gainesville plays host to Chestatee at 5:55 p.m., and Johnson plays host to Stephens County in Oakwood.