GAINESVILLE -- Jones County couldn’t get runners home at the right time Monday as Gainesville ended the Greyhounds’ season in a GHSA Class AAAAA semifinal doubleheader sweep at Ivey-Watson Field.
The Greyhounds stranded runners on third in the final two innings of a 4-3 loss in the opener, then left 10 runners on base in a 5-4 loss in the finale.
Jones County finishes with a 26-9 record.
“Each game (in the playoffs), we’ve had one kid or another step up in a big-time situation and come up with that big hit or that big out on the mound,” Jones County head coach Jason Page said. “(On Monday) we just weren’t able to do it.”
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Late rallies made things interesting in both games, but Jones County couldn’t quite finish the comebacks.
In the opener, Jones County posted three runs in the sixth after Gainesville scored four in the first.
Gainesville left-hander Jonathan Gettys, whose three-run homer was the big blow in the first, went the distance for the win in the opener. The LSU commit struck out 10 as Jones County struggled a bit with his curveball.
Jones County was held to two hits through the first five innings, but the Greyhounds strung some offense together in the sixth. Walker Juhan homered to the right-field power alley to cut Gainesville’s lead to 4-2, and a hit batter and a pair of singles led to Zack Griffin crossing the plate.
The Greyhounds, however, couldn’t get the tying run across the plate despite putting runners on third in the sixth and seventh.
With No. 9 batter Cody Compton at bat in the sixth and runners at second and third, Jones County called for a squeeze on a 1-2 count. Gettys threw low, Compton pulled back on his bunt attempt, and Keaton Gordon was caught up in a rundown to end the inning.
In the seventh, Jones County put two runners on for Juhan. Gainesville decided to pitch to the clean-up batter with two outs, but Gettys walked Juhan on five pitches to load the bases. The next batter, Brooks Veal, ripped a grounder on his first pitch to second. An easy flip to short ended the opener.
Jones County starter Jacob Walden also went the distance in the opener, allowing four hits and three walks while striking out six.
The trouble with stranding runners late in the opener continued in the second game as Jones County ended the second, fourth and sixth innings with runners on third.
Jones County scratched out a 2-1 lead through three, but Caleb Whitenton’s solo shot to right in the sixth put Gainesville up 3-2 after the Red Elephants (28-6) tied it in the fifth.
Gainesville, which will face the Allatoona-Greenbrier winner in the Class AAAAA championship series, added two more runs in the seventh on a squeeze and a fielder’s choice. Jones County scored a pair of two-out runs in its half of the seventh before a grounder to second ended the game with a runner on second.
It will be Gainesville’s first championship series appearance since 2002.
“We’ve had great seniors the past three, four, five years, and they’ve learned what it takes to win in the playoffs,” Gainesville head coach Jeremy Kemp said. “It’s paid off so far.”
Michael Curry, who came on in relief in the fifth, struck out six for the win. Gordon, who threw 105 pitches in six innings of work, took the loss.