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Whitenton's homer, pitching victory key Gainesville in first-round sweep of Cambridge
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Gainesville's Fedrick Cardona (24) congratulates Drew Wright (7) as he crosses the plate during the first-round playoff series against Cambridge on Friday at Ivey-Watson Field. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Caleb Whitenton’s home run in Game 1 was just the energy boost seventh-ranked Gainesville needed Friday as it completed a two-game sweep of Cambridge in the opening round of the Class AAAAA state tournament at Ivey-Watson Field in Gainesville.

Scoreless through three innings of solid pitching on both sides, the Red Elephants’ first baseman knocked a solo home run as they went on to win 3-2.

In Game 2, Region 8-AAAAA champion Gainesville (22-5) started to wear on a depth-deprived Bears pitching staff and scored six early runs to earn a 14-3 win that completed the series sweep. With the victory, Gainesville moves on to face Evans in the second round with another doubleheader Wednesday in a best-of-three series in Gainesville.

“It feels great to come out here and get the sweep in two games,” said Whitenton, who earned the win on the mound in Game 2. “Cambridge had a good team.

“We had some big wins late in the regular season, which carried over to today and I think that gives us good momentum for the rest of the playoffs.”

GAME 2: GAINESVILLE 14, CAMBRIDGE 3: Catcher Michael Curry had three doubles and scored three times, while Game 1 winner Jonathan Gettys also had three hits for the Red Elephants in the nightcap. After Cambridge shaved Gainesville’s lead down to 6-3 in the home portion of the fourth inning, the Red Elephants retaliated with seven runs in the top of the fifth, playing as the visitor in the second game.

Gettys got the inning going with a high fly ball that cleared the wall in right field for a solo homer.

He came back around to add a hard-hit RBI single before the inning ended. Banks Griffith drove in another run on a sacrifice fly. After two singles and a sacrifice fly in the first game, senior third baseman Mikey Gonzalez roped an RBI single in the fifth for Gainesville. Curry’s final double of the night was a long fly ball to the center field wall, which scored a run.

Curry’s first hit was a two-out double down the third base line in the first inning. He scored on Anthony Carrera’s two-run double. In his next plate appearance, Curry smacked a lead-off double in the third inning, and came in to score standing up with Gettys’ double past the mound and drawn-in infield.

Whitenton threw four innings with six strikeouts, and gave way to senior reliever Harrison Styles for the final inning of work on the mound. Meanwhile, Gainesville’s offensive production gave Cambridge coach Brian Jeffrey reason to change his pitcher five times in the second game.

Gainesville scored a pair of runs in the first inning, four in the third and seven in the fifth. Cambridge scored all three of its runs in the fourth inning with two outs already recorded.

GAME 1: GAINESVILLE 3, CAMBRIDGE 2: Gettys came out on top against Cambridge’s Austin Weiermiller in a matchup of hard-throwing lefties to open the series. Even though he struggled with his control early, Gettys settled down to record 10 strikeouts and only surrendered three hits, despite a high pitch count early in the game.

Gettys threw 29 pitches in the opening inning and allowed back-to-back walks to open the game. After the Bears loaded the bases with one out, Gettys got Weiermiller to ground it to shortstop Fedrick Cardona, which resulted in an inning-ending double play.

Curry said he was able to calm Gettys, with the help of pitching coach Adam Miller, to get Gainesville’s southpaw over his early struggle.

“Jonathan got rattled early, but once he settled down, he threw it the way Jonathan’s able to pitch.”

Gettys also got around two-out walks to Nick Sieverts and Brian Moore without any damage on the scoreboard in the third inning.

Cardona provided steady defense at shortstop in both games, making a number of nice plays on grounders.

With the game scoreless in the fourth, Whitenton delivered his solo shot. After reaching on a walk, Carrera later scored on a throwing error to first before the inning ended. Cardona had a lead-off walk for the Red Elephants in the fifth, moved up two bases on a passed ball and scored on Gonzalez’s sacrifice fly to right field.

In the seventh, Gettys gave way to the Red Elephants relievers. Styles closed the door by getting Cambridge’s final hitter to fly out to Sewell in the right field with two on base. It was the only batter Styles faced in the opener to earn the save.

Cambridge scored both runs in the seventh when Gonzalez came in to pitch.

“Harrison has been right with our other guys pitching the ball this season,” said Gainesville coach Jeremy Kemp. “That was a big out he got in Game 1 for us, so we went back with him again in the second game.”

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