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Prep baseball: Despite blunders, Big Red wins
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Gainesville coach Wayne Vickery talks about the Red Elephants win on Wednesday.

Gainesville High baseball coach Wayne Vickery was stretched to find anything nice to say about his team after its 11-7 win over Gilmer Wednesday night at Ivey-Watson Field.

Five fielding errors by the Red Elephants (20-5, 19-2 Region 7-AAA) along with a base running blunder between first and second base had their coach hot under the collar, even though Gainesville is assured no less than the No. 2 seed from Region 7-AAA and a first round home series in the Class AAA state playoffs.

The low point for the Red Elephants on Wednesday defensively was a botched pick off throw to first base, allowing Gilmer’s (18-7, 15-6) Ethan Watkins to score from third in the third inning.

“That was the worst exhibition of baseball I’ve seen in a long time,” Vickery said. “Our fielding was pathetic.

“I don’t know if it was concentration, or what it was, I just don’t have the answer.”

Gainesville’s only hope to earn the Region 7-AAA title is a combination of a win against Pickens on Friday and a Flowery Branch loss to Lumpkin County in the regular season finale. The Falcons own any future tie-breaker against the Red Elephants after winning both head-to-head games this season.

“That’s what we’ve played for all season is the region title,” Gainesville senior Max Joseph said. “If Flowery Branch lost that would be incredible.”

“I told the guys after the game that we can’t worry about what’s going on at Flowery Branch,” Vickery added. “We better be worried about what’s going on here.

“At the end of the season, you’d think we’d be doing the little things better, but we had entirely too many mistakes.”

If it wasn’t for the three home runs and eight hits by the Red Elephants, the outcome of Wednesday’s game could have been very different.

Gainesville’s coach gave credit to Joseph as he battled through previous elbow troubles and threw two solid innings in relief.

Joseph connected on a three-run home run in the third inning and finished the game with five RBIs. He had a two-run single in the first inning that scored Sloan Strickland and Andy Edmondson.

“I thought Max threw the ball great for two innings, he kept the ball down in the strike zone,” Vickery said.Zach Thellman started the game on a good note for the Red Elephants with a lead off home run in the first inning.

Blaine Martin added a two-run home run that scored Thellman on the heels of Joseph’s shot in the third. Martin was also hit by a pitch in the first inning and scored on a wild pitch.

Red Elephants senior Robby Hefflinger reached on an error in the second inning and later scored from third on a wild pitch.

Justin Fordham (1-for-2 with a walk), Charlie Newman (1-for-3) and Strickland (1-for-3) also added hits for the Red Elephants.

“If we can make five errors and still win, we must be a pretty good team,” Vickery added.

Greg Weaver had a solo home run for Gilmer in the second inning. Jesse White followed with a double off of the left field wall. Zach Evans (2-for-4), Watkins (2-for-4) and Chase Queen (1-for-3 with a double) also hit the ball well for Gilmer.

Gainesville’s first round playoff opponent is still up for grabs with five teams in cross-over playoff opponent Region 5-AAA with either two or three loses in region play.

Gilmer closes out the regular season with East Hall at 5:30 p.m. Friday in Ellijay.

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