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Gainesville Walks Off Columbia In 12th Inning Of District Battle

*Photo courtesy of Gainesville High School Baseball.

The battle for the top seed in District 7A-3 is as tight as ever, as all four teams currently sit at 1-1 in a rare four-way tie in the standings. Friday night’s 12-inning showdown between the Columbia Tigers and Gainesville Hurricanes serves as a strong indicator of how competitive the district is this season. Thanks to an RBI double from Asher Akridge the Hurricanes kept pace to shake the standings up with their 7-6, walk-off victory.

The two clubs played an equally tight battle on Thursday, a 2-0 victory for the Tigers. Meanwhile, Vanguard and Middleburg also split their games this week, the second also going down to a walk-off decision in extra innings.

Things were tight the entire way between the Hurricanes and Tigers, as the game was tied four times and the lead changed hands three times. The Hurricanes jumped ahead with two runs in the first, only to watch Columbia rally back to first tie things up and then go ahead 4-2 in the sixth. Gainesville (3-1) immediately responded with two more runs in the sixth to force extra innings, and again with two more runs to match the pair Columbia posted in the top of the ninth. Neither side was willing to relent.

“Our sophomore guys have really been struggling with their approach and getting comfortable, but they kind of came out of their shell and were comfortable and we ended with 11 hits,” Gainesville manager Chris Malphurs said. “Our sophomore, Asher Akridge, delivered a double in the bottom of the twelfth. We had Chase DeMichele on first base and we put him on the move in a 1-1 count and they threw a breaking ball and Asher ripped it to the gap and Chase scored easily for us. It was a fun way to end, that’s for sure.”

In the bottom of the twelfth inning, Chase DeMichele reached on an error, and he then came all the way around the bases to score the winning run when Akridge stroked his double deep to center field. It finished off a big day at the plate for the sophomore outfielder, as Akridge was 3-for-5 with three RBIs on the night. DeMichele was 2-for-6 with two runs and junior Luke Marquis went 3-for-6 with two RBIs and a run.

*Photo courtesy of Gainesville High School Baseball.

It is the first loss of the season for the Tigers (4-1), who enjoyed a balanced day offensively to compliment the solid pitching effort. Daveion Love led the way at the plate by going 2-for-6, and he also made the start and struck out five in six innings. Micah Gustavson went the final five innings, allowing three unearned runs on four hits and two walks while posting 10 strikeouts. Gustavson also went 1-for-4 with two walks and a run.

“The number one seed gets to host the district tournament, so these games really mean a lot,” Malphurs said. “Last year it came down to a coin flip for us and them and we lost out. So we want to win out this year and hope they stumble somewhere along the way.”

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