Posted: Tuesday, May 22nd 2012 at 11:59pm
Baseball: Ringgold runs away with semifinal series, as GHS falls 11-3
By Morgan Lee Editor
Gainesville's Hunter Anglin, checks his swing on a low pitch during the Red Elephants' 11-3 loss to RInggold on Tuesday at Ivey-Watson Field in Gainesville.
GAINESVILLE -- Gainesville baseball will look back on the 2012 season as one for the history books.
The Red Elephants may also look back on this week's semifinal series as one that got away.
After winning 31 straight games, going undefeated in the regular season for the first time and reaching the state "Final Four" for the first time since 2002, Gainesville saw its magical season come to an end on Tuesday courtesy an 11-3 victory for RInggold in Game 3 of the Class AAA semifinal series at Ivey-Watson Field in Gainesville.
Ringgold moves on to face Columbus in the Class AAA championship series, beginning Saturday -- a rematch from 2010.
The Red Elephants (32-2) battled back from a 2-0 deficit on Tuesday against the Tigers, but a base-running miscue and an explosive fourth inning from Ringgold put the contest out of reach, as the visitors pounced for eight runs in the frame and a 10-2 lead.
“When you lose 11-3 you’ve made a lot of mistakes,” Red Elephants coach Jeremy Kemp said. “We definitely let the first game of this series get away from us, no doubt. And then today we just made too many mistakes. We gave up 10 walks today; you can’t beat playoff teams doing that.”
Gainesville dropped the first game in the best-of-three series 4-3 on Monday but bounced back for a lopsided 12-2 victory in the nightcap that forced Tuesday's deciding contest.
The Red Elephants -- who lost a coin toss on Monday and played as the visiting team in Game 3 -- gave up two runs in the second inning on RBI singles from Wright Hackett and Slade Dale. Ringgold went on to record 11 hits on the day -- including two home runs from Andy Mocahbee. Yet Gainesville starter Hunter Anglin performed well over the first three innings, keeping his team in striking distance.
And while Ringgold’s Austin Parrish put together a stellar performance of his own over three innings -- allowing just one hit and one walk -- the Red Elephants began to zero in on the Tigers pitcher in the fourth inning.
Ryan Griffith reached on an error to lead off, while Anglin followed with an impressive at-bat that saw the junior battle Parrish through several foul-tips -- including one that slammed off the top of Anglin’s foot. Brushing himself off from the pain Anglin responded with a towering two-run home run over the left centerfield fence, knotting the score at 2-2.
The blast looked set to spark a huge inning for Gainesville, as David Gonzalez reached on another error and Michael Gettys bunted his way on -- Gonzalez taking third on the play -- with no outs on the board. But, as was the case in Game 1, Ringgold’s heads-up defensive play quashed the Red Elephants’ budding momentum. In Game 1, the Tigers completed an unorthodox double play to hold Gainesville to two runs and maintain a 4-3 lead in the fifth. This time Ringgold completed another atypical double play -- catching Gonzalez in a run-down between home and third and picking off Gettys at second on a hard grounder from Caleb Whitenton.
“That was just awful -- a really unfortunate situation,” Kemp said. “Hunter had a huge hit to get us going, and then that happened. David had no chance to get back to third base on the play and Michael got caught in no-man’s land.”
“After Andy hit that home run to get the lead back they just relaxed and there they went,” Ringgold coach Brent Tucker said of his squad. “The seniors and juniors on this team have faced elimination games several times before in the past two years, and they understand what this game is like.”
With Parrish in control -- he finished with a complete game, scattering six hits and allowing just two earned runs -- the Red Elephants could not mount a comeback attempt until the seventh inning, when Gettys (the only Gainesville player with multiple hits Tuesday) and Whitenton each hit safely to start the inning. Sims Griffith drove in Gettys, but Ringgold held on to bring the contest and Gainesville’s season to a close.
“We had a great year and we made history at Gainesville -- which is hard to do at a program that’s won seven state titles,” Kemp said. “We went 32-2 and made it back to the Final Four. We didn’t finish like we wanted, but we have a lot to be proud of.”
Kemp reserved special praise for his seniors -- including standouts and starters Stephen Mason, Gonzalez, Ryan Griffith and Shad Petree.
“They’re a special group, and I love them all,” Kemp said. “They got this program back going. They’re the reason we’re here.”
The Red Elephants will also return six starters next season, including two of the three starting pitchers from this week’s semifinal series.
“We’ve got a good nucleus coming back,” Kemp said.
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