Posted: Saturday, March 1st 2014 at 6:20am
Baseball: Gettys, Red Elephants stymie N. Gwinnett in opener
By Jeff Hart Staff
GAINESVILLE -- Gainesville baseball coach Jeremy Kemp said senior Michael Gettys may be one of the smartest kids he’s ever been around.
The only problem, Kemp said, is that Gettys sometimes thinks too much.
“If we could get him to relax a little and just play, man,” Kemp said.
With a dozen or more scouts logjammed behind the home plate fence, Gettys, the top outfield prospect in the nation by some accounts, looked like he was heeding his coach’s advice, and pretty relaxed as well.
The senior right-hander dominated a solid North Gwinnett lineup leading the Red Elephants to an 8-0 win Friday at Ivey-Watson Field in their season-opener.
Gettys tossed a one-hitter, fanned 11, and walked none in six innings of work and outdueled fellow Major League prospect Tucker Bacha of North Gwinnett. Baca went five innings allowing five hits, hit three batters, walked one, and struck out eight in the loss.
North Gwinnett (3-1) came into the game averaging more than eight runs a contest.
“I just went out there and pitched and didn’t think about much,” Gettys said. “I’m just trying to have fun this year.”
Gettys, who said he would rather play in the field than stand atop the mound, said the win against the Bulldogs was a great start for the Elephants.
“Tucker is a good friend of mine and he is very good,” Kemp said. “I told him before the game I wanted to hit a home run off him but he pitched me tough. But I feel like our team may be the best one since I’ve been here. Great chemistry this year.”
Kemp said the seniors have been the first to arrive and the last to leave as they try to erase last year’s disappointing finish.
“We don’t talk about last year but I think that has driven them to want to have a good year,” he said. “They are an unbelievable bunch of kids. But as far as our thinking goes, it’s just to win today. That’s it.”
Gettys and Bacha both were dominating to start.
Gettys retired 11 of the first 12 batters, including six strikeouts, with shortstop Sims Griffith making two nice plays in the early innings. The only Bulldog to reach was Devin Mitchell, who reached on an error and was erased trying to steal second on a perfect throw from Gainesville catcher Michael Curry to Griffith to end the third inning.
Bacha, a southpaw, was just as tough early retiring six of the first seven Gainesville batters with two strikeouts through the first two innings. The only runner to reach was Drew Satterfield on a passed ball on a third strike in the second.
But the Red Elephants offense would get to Bacha in the third and fourth innings as nine of 14 batters would reach.
Fedrick Cardona opened the third inning with a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. He advanced to third on an infield single by Drew Wright and scored on a bad-hop single by Griffith. Bacha loaded the bases by hitting Gettys, and then Curry knocked in Wright with an infield single for a 2-0 lead. Griffith would score on a passed ball with the bases loaded to make it 3-0. They would leave the bases loaded, however.
Gainesville (1-0) added a run in the fourth when Wright singled with one out and later scored on a wild pitch and then an error by Bacha with the bases loaded. Bacha was able to get out of the inning without further damage striking out Curry and Caleb Whitenton.
“We did a good job of putting the ball in play against him. He’s good,” Kemp said.
The Elephants put things out of reach in the bottom of the sixth with four runs off reliever Blake Sangster.
Gettys knocked in Wright, who walked to start the inning, and then Sims, who singled and went to third on Gettys’s hit, scored from third on a balk, and Gettys came home on a wild pitch. Curry walked and later scored on a sacrifice fly from Brandon Sewell for an 8-0 lead.
Chandler Newton closed out the game for Gainesville pitching a scoreless seventh inning allowing one hit.
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