Posted: Tuesday, May 14th 2013 at 11:19pm
Baseball: Whitewater gets stunning sweep of No. 1 Gainesville
By Jeff Hart Staff
Gainesville's Sims Griffith, relays a throw to first base during the Red Elephants' defeat to Whitewater on Tuesday in the Class AAAAA quarterfinals. / photo: David Weikel
GAINESVILLE -- It was a bad day to have a bad day.
Unfortunately for the Gainesville baseball team, untimely errors and a rare power outage at the plate contributed to a stunning Class AAAAA quarterfinal series loss to Whitewater Tuesday at Ivey-Watson Field.
The Red Elephants fell 2-1 in 11 innings in Game 1 and then dropped Game 2, 4-3, as the Wildcats were able to pull off the unexpected sweep on the road against the No. 1-ranked team coming into the state playoffs.
Even Whitewater coach Mark Jones, who brought a young team to Ivey-Watson, admitted he was not optimistic when the series began.
“They have so many pitchers and a great lineup I really didn’t think we could tackle this bunch,” Jones said. “Not to take anything away from our kids, but we knew we were huge underdogs. But our kids are scrappy and never quit and play extremely well together.”
Pitching and defense were the difference for both teams Tuesday. The Wildcats committed just three errors while the Red Elephants (27-5) had an uncharacteristic eight errors.
Whitewater (26-7) also got tremendous relief pitching from Mercer-bound Cam Wesolowski, who closed out both games allowing no runs and yielding just five hits in 5 2/3 innings of work. He pitched the final four innings of Game 1 and retired all five batters he faced in Game 2.
“He has done that for us all year,” Jones said. “He probably was the difference.”
He’ll get no argument from Gainesville coach Jeremy Kemp.
“(Wesolowski) just ate our lunch all day,” he said. “He hit any spot he wanted and we weren’t patient and couldn’t get anything going. You have to tip your cap to him.”
The loss for Kemp and the Elephants was frustrating as they came into the series riding impressive sweeps of Hiram and Creekview in the first two rounds. They had allowed just five runs in the two series and pummeled opposing pitchers for 25 runs.
The Wildcats, however, had a gameplan and executed it to near-perfection.
“We knew we couldn’t outslug them so we wanted to get on base anyway we could and put pressure on their defense,” Jones said. “I thought the kids did a great job of doing that. Some of their mistakes were because we made them make plays.”
Kemp felt his pitching was solid enough in the two games to win. But the eight errors were just too much to overcome. Michael Gettys and Hunter Anglin combined for 21 strikeouts in Game 1 and yielded just eight hits. Jonathan Gettys and Chandler Newton fanned five and allowed just two earned runs in Game 1.
“Don’t remember a day like this for us since I’ve been here,” he said. “When you only give up two and four runs in two games you should be able to win. Our defense let us down.
“But I really thought our pitching was outstanding in both games. All four guys I thought threw well. We just picked a bad day to have a bad day in the field and at the plate.”
Game 1 lived up to the billing featuring Gainesville’s Michael Gettys and the Wildcats’ Jake Lee. The two right-handers kept the offenses off-balance but each would have one hiccup.
Lee scattered three hits and allowed one unearned run as his defense dropped a lazy fly ball to center that let Luke Maddox score from second with two outs in the third.
Gainesville kept the lead until the sixth when Whitewater got a run off Gettys when Taylor Turner ripped a two-strike, two-out single for an RBI to tie the game.
In the extra frames, the Wildcats got the lead-off batter on base in each the ninth and 10th innings but Anglin, who replaced Gettys in the eighth, was able to snuff out the threats, including striking out the side in the ninth. He picked a runner off first in the 10th.
Gainesville got two runners on the bottom of the 10th with two outs after back-to-back infield singles from Michael Gettys and Sims Griffith. But Skyler Weber grounded out on the first pitch to end the inning.
Whitewater would finally break the scoring drought in the top of the 11th inning. The Wildcats scrapped together one run on a walk, a wild pitch, a ground out, and then a high chopper that Griffith was not able to corral behind the mound as the Wildcats took a 2-1 lead.
The Elephants got the tying run to second in the bottom of the 11th on a one-out double by Anglin. But Anglin was gunned down at the plate on a single by Luke Moore. Brandon Sewell then grounded out to first to end the game.
Wesolowski got the win for the Wildcats pitching the final four innings despite allowing five hits. He got help from a rare batter’s interference on a strike out for a double play in the ninth to kill a possible Gainesville rally.
In Game 2, the Gainesville offense looked like it was finally going to get untracked. After a Michael Gettys walk to open the game, Weber belted a long one-out, two-run home run to right for a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning. But the Elephants would get just one more hit against Whitewater starter Ethan Gillis, who settled down retiring seven straight in the middle innings while the Wildcats rallied to take the lead.
The Wildcats answered in the bottom of the first loading the bases. They would cut the lead to 2-1 on a RBI fielder’s choice by Nick Fuerstenau but Johnathan Gettys would get out of the inning with no further damage getting Turner to pop up to first base.
Whitewater looked poised to at least tie or reclaim the lead in the second getting a runner to third with one out after two Gainesville errors. But Jonathan Gettys was able to get out of the jam on a botched squeeze attempt and then a strikeout to end the inning with the Elephants still clinging to a 2-1 lead.
Gainesville had a chance to bust the game open in the third loading the bases on two walks and a Weber single. But Anglin popped to short to end the inning.
The Wildcats took advantage of more sloppy Gainesville defense in the bottom of the fourth. They would score twice taking advantage of two Jonathan Gettys walks and two Red Elephant errors. They would get one run on a steal of home on a botched run down and then get another run on a wild pitch to take a 3-2 lead.
Gettys would leave after four innings surrendering just two hits and striking out six. But he walked five and four errors from the defense did not give him much support.
Whitewater extended the lead to 4-2 with a RBI single by Fuerstenau in the fifth. Gainesville would cut the lead to 4-3 in the sixth on a RBI ground out by Moore. But Sewell would strike out against Wesolowski to end the inning.
The Elephants went 1-2-3 in the seventh against Wesolowski to end the game and the series.
NOTES: Whitewater kept an impressive streak going with the series win. The Wildcats have advanced to at least the semifinals in four consecutive seasons, including the title series in 2011, when they lost in the finals to Marist in Class AAAA...Gainesville had won seven straight and 18 of last 19 overall before Tuesday...The Elephants had allowed just one run in last three playoff games with two shutouts and had outscored their opposition 25-5 in playoffs...The four runs in Game 2 was just the fifth game all season Gainesville allowed four or more in a game...Gainesville had allowed one run or fewer with 16 shutouts in 21 of their 30 games before Tuesday...The Elephants came into the series averaging 8.3 runs a game....It was only the second time all season the Elephants had lost back-to-back games. They lost 7-2 to Winder-Barrow and 1-0 to Mill Creek back on March 19 and 21.
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