It has become a bit of a running joke between East Hamilton baseball coach Steve Garland and his football boss, head coach Ted Gatewood. Once again, Tuesday night, Garland thanked Gatewood for lending him his son for baseball season.
Austin Gatewood, an all-state football player for his dad in the fall, has proven equally adept at hitting a ball as receiving one for the Hurricanes. Tuesday night, at yet another evening that was more appropriate for football than baseball, Gatewood had a pair of triples, a single and five RBIs as East Hamilton completed the home half of its district 6-AA duel with Red Bank, 12-5.
"He's got serious bat speed -- for a football player," Garland said after East Hamilton took its district record to 8-0 with the win on Chattanooga State's immaculate field. "One of the triples he hit out there, where even the Chattanooga State guys don't hit it."
One fan estimated the center field fence that Gatewood's second triple smacked as being 405 feet away from home plate on the full-sized college field. The two-out hit cleared the bases and wiped out an early 3-1 Red Bank lead. Coach Trey Hicks' Lions, who lost a one-run heartbreaker to the Hurricanes Monday, took advantage of some early wildness by East Hamilton starter Connor Sadro and included a bases loaded walk among their run-producing plays.
Hagen Wilkey got Red Bank on the board with a long RBI double to the left-center gap in the first inning, but Sadro came back to strike him out to end the second inning with the bases loaded.
Sadro would not allow another run until he gave way to Ryan Crowden in the sixth inning as the Hurricanes would score the game's next 11 runs.
"We talked about it to our pitchers. Who would be the one to put some zeroes on the scoreboard? He did settle in and gave us those zeroes before the pitch count did him in," said Garland. As for the big rally, the coach added that hs team's avoidance of acould only shake his head because the Lions outhit his team in each game.
"I'm really encouraged overall," he said. "We've enjoyed some good leadership, in some cases by guys who have patiently waited their turn."
For the Hurricanes (10-6 overall, 8-0 in 6-AA), Tanner Urgos went 1-for-2 with two runs scored and one RBI. For Red Bank (6-9, 5-2) Gage Winton had a hit and two seventh-inning RBIs in addition to a strong relief performance. East Hamilton has a district home-and-home with Tyner on the horizon, but fellow unbeaten Central looms as the showdown series for the big district.
Added Garland, "Central has to face Red Bank twiice before they face us. A lot could change."
Red Bank 120 000 2 -- 5 9 3
East Hamilton 145 020 x -- 12 6 1
Sadro, Crowden (6) and Waters, Fahlen (7). Records: Red Bank (7-9, 5- 2)