JEFFERSON found itself on the short end of a pitching dual with a Class AAA power Thursday.
The Dragons (2-2) fell 2-1 to Gainesville (4-0) at home as the Red Elephants — a Sweet 16 team in Class AAA a year ago — combined to throw a two-hitter. Jefferson pitching allowed just three hits. Click here for pictures.
“It was a fast-pitch softball score,” Jefferson coach Tommy Knight quipped. “Both sides, the pitching was good. We’ve just got to make the most of our opportunities.”
The teams play again tomorrow at Gainesville at 5:55 p.m.
Jefferson had its chances to tie or possibly take the lead in this non-region matchup but wasn’t able to manage any big two-out hits with runners in scoring position.
Trailing by a run, the Dragons left a runner at third in the bottom of the fourth and left the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth.
Jefferson then put the tying run at second in the final inning before Gainesville reliever Hunter Anglin recorded the final out.
“We just couldn’t get hits in a big spot,” Knight said.
Gainesville had plated 41 runs in its first three games, but the Red Elephants didn’t get a hit after the second inning in this game.
Knight said starting pitcher Max Ford and Jacob Page, who worked the final innings, threw the ball really well.
“I was really proud of our pitching and our defense,” Knight said.
Ford took the loss, throwing five innings, surrendering three hits, two runs and a walk while striking out five. Page came on and threw two shutout innings, allowing no hits and a walk while striking out one.
David Gonzales picked up the win for Gainesville, throwing four innings and allowing one hit, three walks and an unearned run while striking out eight.
He carried a no-hitter into the fourth inning before it was broken up by Kevin Ross (1-for-2), who singled to right field. Drew Carson (1-for-3) got Jefferson’s only other hit.
Ford set down eight of the first 10 batters he faced before surrendering an RBI triple to Michael Gettys in the top of the third. Gettys then scored on a wild pitch to give Gainesville a 2-0 lead.
Jefferson got its run in the bottom of the fourth. With Dragon runners on second and third, Gonzales’ pick-off attempt at second base ended up in centerfield, allowing Ryan Johnson to score from third.
This was certainly a tough non-region assignment for Jefferson as Gainesville is off to an unbeaten start this spring after going 24-7 last year.
“We want to play good folks,” Knight said. “We feel we’re at that point. We want to play good folks because it makes you better later on.”