GAINESVILLE -- Just over three weeks ago, Luke Maddox took a line drive to the eye that required 11 stitches.
Bet you would have a hard time convincing Tucker baseball of that.
Maddox's eyes were locked in on the Tigers pitching staff Friday, as the Gainesville standout racked up five hits and five RBI to help the Red Elephants to a two game sweep of the Tigers in the first round of the Class AAAAA playoffs at Ivey-Watson Field.
"Luke's a special kid, and he's tough as nails; he got hit in the eye (April 11 at Clarke Central) and played in the very next game," Red Elephants coach Jeremy Kemp said. "Halfway through the season he really caught fire, and he's hitting the ball as well as he has all season."
The only thing missing from Maddox's big afternoon was a home run, as the second baseman ripped a double and a triple -- the latter scoring three runs to put Game 2 of a doubleheader out of reach.
"I've just been feeling comfortable and seeing the ball well," Maddox said. "I just went up there looking to make contact and make something happen."
Maddox helped Gainesville make the most of two fast starts on Friday, as the Red Elephants scored six runs in the first inning of Game 1 before holding on 7-4. Gainesville also jumped up 3-0 in the first inning of Game 2 -- a contest they claimed 12-1.
"Those first innings got us going; they were big," Maddox said. "We just wanted to come out and get off to a good start. We want to keep winning for our seniors. We don't want them to be done yet."
One of those seniors, Michael Gettys, also played a key role in the sweep, as he dominated from the mound in Game 1, striking out 14 Tucker batters. Meanwhile, Caleb Whitenton was just as tough for the Tigers in Game 2, allowing just one hit while striking out eight over five innings work.
"Michael's got strep, and I'm proud of the way he pitched tonight," Kemp said. "And Caleb about doubled his innings total tonight. Both of those guys were huge."
Brandon Sewell and Drew Wright also each went 3 for 6 for the series with 2 RBI, including a home run for Sewell and a double for Wright.
"We were coming into the playoffs kind of banged up, but we got a lot of guys to play tonight and play well," Kemp said. "If we can get healthy I like our depth."
The Red Elephants will face Sequoyah, which swept Rome in the opening round, on Wednesday back at Ivey-Watson for a doubleheader, start time to be determined.
GAME 1: GAINESVILLE 7, TUCKER 4
The Red Elephants used a six-run first inning and a dominant performance from Gettys to clinch the opening win.
Gettys struck out 14 Tigers batters and allowed just two runs and five hits before giving way in the sixth after 95 pitches. Sims Griffith earned the save and also helped out at the plate with a double and two runs scored.
Maddox, meanwhile, feasted on Tucker pitching with three hits, including a double and an RBI. Whitenton also had a two-run double.
Gainesville got things going immediately -- with a little help from the visitors.
Griffith reached on an error to lead off, and Maddox followed with a single before another Tigers error allowed Griffith and Maddox to score for a 2-0 lead. Michael Curry kept things going with a single, setting the stage for a two-run double from Whitenton to make it 4-0 -- all with no outs on the board.
Anthony Carrera and Wright also provided RBI for the Red Elephants in the inning, Carrera's sac fly to centerfield scoring Whitenton and Wright's RBI single bringing home Brandon Sewell -- who also singled in the frame -- for a 6-0 advantage before Tucker could blink.
The red-hot start cooled quickly, however, and the Tigers chipped away with one run in both the third and fourth innings to pull within 6-2. And while Gettys overpowered a number of hitters, touching 92 miles per hour at one point, Tucker pieced together five hits in the second-fourth frames.
Gainesville wasn't about to let its advantage slip, however, and Maddox extended the Red Elephants lead to 7-2 in the fourth on a sac fly to right field that scored Griffith.
Tucker took advantage when Gettys left the mound after the sixth, scoring two runs to pull within 7-4. But Griffith took over with two outs and two runners on base and slammed the door with a strikeout -- the Tigers' 16th of the day.
GAME 2: GAINESVILLE , TUCKER
Again the Red Elephants made the most of things early, this time jumping out to a 3-0 lead after the top of the first.
Gainesville pounced on Tigers starter Aaron Perry for three straight hits including an RBI single for Maddox and an RBI double for Gettys -- who later scored himself after an error from Tucker with the centerfielder attempting to steal third base.
The Red Elephants broke things open in the fourth inning by being patient at the plate. Gainesville drew three straight one-out walks to load the bases and chase Perry. Replacement Julian Sewell fared little better, however, as Cardona drew a walk for 4-0 before Wright singled in Brandon Sewell for 5-0 with the bases still loaded.
Then Maddox took the stage again. This time the second baseman drove a triple to left centerfield, scoring three runs and giving the Red Elephants a commanding 8-0 lead.
Thanks to Whitenton it was more than enough. The Gainesville starter rode one hairy inning, striking out Perry with the bases loaded in the second after walking them full. From there it was smooth sailing, as he allowed just one hit -- an infield single from Tyler Sampson in the third. Whitenton finished with eight strikeouts and four walks on 89 pitches.
Sewell made it 9-0 in the fifth, crushing a solo home run before Griffith drove in Fredrick Cardona in the sixth for a 10-0 lead that set Big Red minds to thinking of the second round.
Tucker ensured the seventh inning with an RBI from Jake Lavvorn, scoring Tyler Sampson to make it 10-1. But Sewell drove in another run in the seventh to make it 11-1. A Tucker balk made it 12-1.