The JV Gilmer High School Bobcats are off to a 5-0 start this year, with three of those wins coming against 515 rival the Fannin County High School Rebels.
After winning the first game of a doubleheader against the Rebels 6-3 last Saturday (before downing Dawson in the second game 10-5), Gilmer traveled to Blue Ridge yesterday and defeating Fannin in two five-inning games, 6-2 and 10-8.
The Bobcats pounced in game one in the top of the second. Eric Stallings drew a two-out walk, swiped second on a errant pickoff throw, then found himself at third after a single from Avery Bertolini. Two batters later, a wild pitch brought Stallings charging home to get Gilmer on the scoreboard. A strikeout temporarily put a damper on the Cats scoring threat.
GHS tacked on two more runs in the top of the third. With one out and two runners on, Sam Nicholson grounded out to bring Hunter Bowyer home to score. During the next at-bat, a throwing error gave David Smith the chance to charge home and put the Bobcats out front 3-0. A flyout prevented Gilmer from further extending its lead.
Fannin started cutting into the deficit in the bottom half of the inning. With two outs, a single from Bryson Pack brought Carson Burkett across the plate. Pack stole second during the next at-bat, then scored on a throwing error. Gilmer hurler Bradley Thomas then recorded a strikeout to keep the Rebels at bay.
The Bobcats promptly got the runs back in the top of the fourth. Bertolini drew a leadoff walk, then came around to score on a Tyler Woody double that split the center-right gap. Woody moved to third on a wild pitch, before trotting home to score when Evan Frady doubled. Later in the frame, a two-out Koby Allen single allowed Frady to come across the diamond and widen the Gilmer lead to 6-2. A strikeout then ended the top of the fourth production for Gilmer.
The Rebels failed to respond before the game concluded, giving game one to the Bobcats.
Game two proved to be a thriller, and it started with Gilmer putting a four-spot on the scoreboard to begin the game.
Brandon Weaver and David Smith garnered back-to-back singles to start the contest, before Woody brought them both home to score with another double that landed deep in the outfield. Later with two outs, Brett Bennett singled to score courtesy runner Frady. An error during the next at-bat then brought Garrett Martin home, to give Gilmer an early 4-0 lead. Fannin starter Pack settled down and recorded a strikeout to get the third out.
The Rebels started chipping away at the early deficit in the bottom half of the frame. Carson Beavers doubled to leadoff, before Matthew Shirah singled to bring Beavers home. Two batters later, Miles Johnson grounded out to bring Shirah across the plate. Bobcat starter Woody then recorded a strikeout and a groundout to cut the Fannin rally short.
FCHS then took its first lead of the day in the bottom of the third. Tyler Norton drew a leadoff walk, before coming around to score on a stolen base and two wild pitches. Two batters later, another wild pitch brought Burkett home to tie the game. The Rebels then took the lead when Pack jogged home after a balk call. A strikeout then ended the inning.
GHS responded by swiftly regaining the lead in the top of the fourth. Weaver picked up an infield single to start the inning, before joining Smith in scoring two batters later when Jonas Griggs doubled. Later in the frame, a walk gave Woody the opportunity to trot home and make the Bobcats lead 7-5. Norton then took over on the hill for Fannin and retired the first three batters he faced, to hold the Gilmer lead to two runs.
Fannin then took the lead once more in the bottom portion of the fourth. With one out and two runners on, Shirah grounded out to score Chandler Smith. Norton followed with a triple to score Beavers, then scored on the same play on a throwing error. A strikeout prevented the Rebels from opening up more than a one-run lead.
The Bobcats clawed their back out in front in the top of the fifth. Three straight singles started the frame, before Woody doubled to score Patrick Spagnola and Weaver. Griggs then grounded out to bring Woody home to score. A strikeout and a tag at home kept GHS out front, 10-8. Eric Turner then struck out the side in the bottom of the inning to give Gilmer the wild victory.
“Right now, we’re getting some good balance,” said head JV Gilmer coach Eric Tedders. “We hit the ball really hard in both games. Our pitchers stepped up, when they had to. I’m proud of the way they battled back (in game two) and stayed in it. They never gave up and they kept putting the ball in play and you see what happened.”
The losses drop the JV Fannin squad to 2-3 for the season.
The JV Rebels will travel to Lumpkin Wednesday for a 5:30 p.m. first pitch, while the JV Bobcats will host Union for a doubleheader Thursday. First pitch is set for 4:30 p.m.
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