CARY, N.C.—Well before Gainesville (Ga.) High began its trip to the National High School Invitational in Cary, Michael Gettys began lobbying his coach.
The Georgia commit wanted the ball for the team’s opening game of the NHSI against Venice (Fla.) High. His coach, Jeremy Kemp, wasn’t about to argue.
“We didn’t even decide he was pitching until this morning. He started about a month ago letting us know he wanted this game,” Kemp said. “I can’t say enough about him.”
Gettys picked up the complete game win as Gainesville knocked off Venice (Fla.) High 6-3 in the final game of the first day of the NHSI tournament. With the win, Gainesville advances to Thursday’s round of eight, where the Red Elephants will face Clovis (Calif.) High.
“(Winning) is huge. All 16 teams probably wonder if you really belong here. Getting that win lets you know that you do,” Kemp said.
Gettys didn’t dominate, but he was able to work through plenty of trouble. He mixed an 87-90 mph fastball and a diving breaking ball as well as the occasional changeup. It was a very cold day, with temperatures in the 40s and wind chills in the 30s, which explains in part why Kemp said Gettys didn’t have his best stuff.
Venice had at least one baserunner in all seven innings. Florida commit Michael Rivera had three hits and fellow Florida commit Dalton Guthrie had a pair of walks, a hit-by-pitch, two runs scored and a double.
But while Venice left nine runners on base, Gainesville took advantage of its opportunities. Gainesville scored six runs in the bottom of the fourth despite getting only one hit—a single by Luke Maddox. The Red Elephants picked up four walks and Gettys was hit by a pitch. A throwing error and a wild pitch helped add to Venice’s problems as three different pitchers couldn’t fix the problems.
“They battled. I wouldn’t say we had a lot of clutch hits but there were a lot of good at-bats,” Kemp said.
Junior Cole Kragel, a sidearming righthanded reliever, shut down Gainesville from the moment he entered the game in the fifth. Kragel proved a very difficult at-bat for any Gainesville hitter, but especially righthanders, as his 85-86 mph fastball seemed to come from behind their head thanks to his long arms and low arm slot.
Thanks to a hit-by-pitch and a throwing error, Venice did bring the tying run to the plate in the top of the seventh, but Gettys picked up his fourth strikeout of the game to finish off Venice.