GHSA Class AAA semifinal series
RINGGOLD 4, GAINESVILLE 3
Ringgold 002 020 0 -- 4 5 0
Gainesville 000 120 0 -- 3 6 0
WP: Corey Kafka (9-2), CG, 9 Ks. LP: David Gonzalez (11-1), CG, 6 Ks. HR: Michael Gettys (G). 2B: Read Walden (R); Skyler Weber (G). Other highlights: Kafka, Walden 2 RBIs each; Logan Baldwin 2 runs (R); Hunter Anglin, Stephen Mason RBI each (G).
GAINESVILLE 12, RINGGOLD 2
Gainesville 008 22 -- 12 10 0
Ringgold 001 01 -- 2 5 1
WP: Michael Gettys (12-0), 6 Ks. LP: Adam Weldon (9-2). HR: Stephen Mason (G); Allan Mochabee (R). 2B: Skyler Weber (G); Corey Kafka (R). Other highlights: Mason 2-4, 4 RBIs, 3 runs; David Gonzalez 2-2, 2 runs; Luke Moore 2-2, RBI, run; Caleb Whitenton 3 RBIs (G); Kafka 2-3, run; Austin Parrish RBI (R). Records: Gainesville 32-1; Ringgold 28-6.
GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Only the 1988 Berrien County Rebels could fully enjoy Monday's baseball doubleheader split between Ringgold and Gainesville.
Once Ringgold won game one of the Georgia Class AAA semifinal series, 4-3, the Rebels remain the only documented undefeated baseball champions in GHSA history.
The Red Elephants regrouped from their first loss of the season to win 12-2 in five innings, setting up the deciding game at 3 p.m. today at Ivey Watson Field.
Tigers coach Brent Tucker was not displeased with living to play another day. He just didn't like the way his team took the field in game two.
"Really, both teams kind of came out flat," he said. "They got momentum, though, and it got away from us. In game one we made plays everywhere and we did a lot of things right. They're a great ballclub and we're a great ballclub, and we'll get a little rest and get things iced up and go at it again tomorrow."
Ringgold won the opener largely because of two defensive plays -- and over-aggressive Gainesville baserunning -- in the middle innings as the Red Elephants began to rally. Trailing 2-0 in the fourth, Hunter Anglin delivered a one-out single to right field, scoring Skyler Weber. David Gonzalez then hit a foul pop caught by Ringgold first baseman Adam Weldon on the dead run in front of the Gainesville dugout. Anglin tried to advance after the catch, but Weldon's throw was in time to end the threat.
The Tigers added two runs in the fifth on Read Walden's double, but Gainesville had pitcher Corey Kafka on the ropes in the bottom half after Michael Gettys led off with a homer and Kafka walked the next two batters. Sims Griffith loaded the bases with a bunt single and Stephen Mason laced a clean single to right, scoring one.
However, Luke Moore overran third base on the play and Griffith, sensing Moore was going home, aggressively rounded second. The Ringgold relay cut Moore down trying to get back to third, and Allan Mochabee's throw to second easily got Griffith. Kafka got Weber to fly out to end the inning.
"They had the bases loaded and had scored a run, but we took advantage of a mistake," Tucker said. "We hit the cutoff man, which they're taught to do, and then they started being athletes. And the play Adam Weldon made on the foul ball -- that was one of the best plays I've ever seen in high school."
Kafka, who had provided the game's first two runs on a two-out single in the third, worked through a leadoff walk in the sixth and a one-out single in the seventh to record his ninth victory of the season. He struck out nine and walked three.
Gainesville scored eight runs in the third inning of game two to quickly take control, but Tucker and the Tigers could not help but wonder what might have happened if one call had gone the other way. The Red Elephants had scored a run and had runners on second and first with two outs and a 3-2 count on Gettys. The next pitch by Ringgold pitcher Weldon hit catcher Andy Mochabee's target, set up over the middle of the plate, but was called a ball.
Caleb Whitenton followed with a two-run single, and two singles and a run later Mason made it 8-0 with an opposite-field grand slam.
"One pitch can change a game, and it did there," Tucker said. "A couple of judgment calls didn't go our way, but then again we didn't make a lot of our own breaks in that game."
The winner of today's game will host the championship series against either top-ranked Columbus or Troup County. The two Region 6 teams also split a semifinal doubleheader Monday.
Ringgold is trying to reach the state finals for the second time in three years and will turn the ball over to junior Austin Parrish, who started and won game three against LaGrange last week in the quarterfinals.
"We're going to be ready to go tomorrow," said Tigers second baseman Wright Hackett, who provided a spark with Monday's first hit and run scored. "We just weren't alive in that second game for some reason. We have to take the field like we did the first game and be prepared to get it done."
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...