With a three-run lead in the seventh inning of Friday’s game at Ivey-Watson Field, White County coach John Brown felt he had no other choice but to go to the bullpen, even though it meant putting incoming relief pitcher Justin Hester in a tough spot.
With a 3-0 count and Gainesville runners at first and second with no outs, Hester was on the hook for not only preserving the victory, but also ensuring David Sosebee the win on the mound after an outstanding start.
Brown’s move worked better than he could have imagined. Hester got the next Gainesville hitter to ground into a double play and recorded the final out on a strikeout to preserve the 6-3 White County win.
“Our pitcher we had in wasn’t throwing strikes, so I had to make the move,” Brown said. “Justin came in and just threw strikes.
“Sometimes they hit them hard and sometimes they hit a little dribbler, but he always throws strikes.”
The double play also showed what a valuable tool Sosebee, a University of Georgia signee, is in the field. On a short hop to him at third base, he fielded the ball and touched the bag for the force out and threw a one-hopper to first that Adam Hooper scooped for the second out.
“David’s a heck of a player,” Brown said.
“Sosebee made a great play out there,” Gainesville coach Jeremy Kemp said. “I thought it might eat him up, but he handled it like a champ.”
With the win, White County (1-1, 1-1 Region 8-AAA) also gets rid of the ugly taste of Wednesday’s 13-9 loss to North Hall when the Warriors let a 9-3 lead slip away in the last two innings.
Sosebee was just as valuable on the mound as he was in the field against the Red Elephants (3-1, 1-1). He pitched the first five innings, recorded 13 strike outs and allowed only a pair of walks. He found his key to success was going to the curveball on two strikes.
He started by retiring Gainesville’s hitters in order in the first inning, and finished by pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning allowing only one run.
“David’s a heck of a pitcher,” Brown said. “He had such command of all three of his pitches (fastball, curveball and changeup) tonight.”
“He was in midseason form for them, which is tough to get ready for after only three games,” Kemp said. “But we hit the ball well. We finished the game with 10 hits.”
Brett Westmoreland drove in three runs for White County without a hit. He connected on two sacrifice flies with the bases loaded, along with a bases-loaded walk that scored Sosebee (2 for 3, walk).
Bo Medlock added a solo home run for the Warriors in the second inning. Warriors starting third baseman Luke Crumley finished with three walks.
Stephen Mason led Gainesville offensively, going 3 for 4 with three singles and an RBI. Sims Griffith was 2 for 2 for the Red Elephants, who visit Monroe Area at 5:55 p.m. on Wednesday.
White County visits Johnson at 5:55 p.m. on Monday.