GAINESVILLE — It would be entirely appropriate to say that Gainesville High’s baseball team is in the midst of a playoff caliber stretch of the Region 7-AAA schedule. The Red Elephants drew the luck of the draw having to play all three fellow playoff qualifiers from last season — Flowery Branch, North Hall and Lumpkin County — consecutively.
"We knew we had our work cut out for us," Gainesville coach Wayne Vickery said.
But if Monday’s 13-0 win over North Hall is any indication of future performance, the Red Elephants (3-4, 2-1 Region 7-AAA) should be just fine.
Rebounding from a 5-1 loss last Friday to the Falcons, Gainesville managed to get every batter on base at least once and pounded out 14 hits as it cruised to a five-inning victory over the Trojans (5-2, 2-1) at Jody Davis Field.
Blaine Martin led the Red Elephants at the plate with a 3-for-3 night including an RBI double in the seventh inning.
"It’s good that we finally played as a team and had a little spark tonight," Martin said. "That’s the way it should be every game."
The Red Elephants had ample production from top to bottom in the lineup with two hits apiece from Zach Thellman, Justin Fordham, Robby Hefflinger, Max Joseph and Charlie Newman. Hefflinger finished the game with a team-high four RBIs including a three-run home run in the second inning.
Joseph started the second inning with a solo home run. Then Newman and Thellman reached base to set the table for Hefflinger’s home run in the second inning that helped build an 8-0 cushion.
Sloan Strickland, Adam Parker and Joseph all drew walks to help bring across the fifth and final run of the inning.
"It was very important for us to win this game," Hefflinger said. "The way we played tonight really gives us an ego boost and makes us feel a little more confident."
The run production for the Red Elephants was a real attention grabber on Monday, but it wasn’t entirely necessary.
Hefflinger was superb on the mound, needing only 65 pitches to carve out a five-inning, complete game shutout. He racked up nine strikeouts and allowed only two hits — both by North Hall’s Jackson Coker — en route to his second consecutive shutout performance.
His last outing was a 15-strikeout shutout against Jonesboro on March 8.
"Robby did a nice job throwing strikes on the first pitch and was really in command of his fastball and change-up," Vickery said. "It’s a little easier to pitch when you have that kind of run support."
Hefflinger made his job easy by striking out each hitter from No. 3-5 (six total) in the heart of North Hall’s order.
Gainesville plays host to Lumpkin County at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Ivey-Watson Field. North Hall visits East Hall at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday at East Hall Park.