GAINESVILLE -- Want to know the value of leadership in playoff baseball?
Look no further than Gainesville's Sims Griffith.
The Red Elephants' shortstop rode an up-and-down day in the field on Wednesday -- but you would never have known it by his performance at the plate as Griffith tagged Sequoyah pitchers for seven hits and seven RBI to lead Gainesville to a two-game sweep in the second round of the Class AAAAA playoffs at Ivey-Watson Field.
"In baseball you fail so much; it's just the way the game is, but you've just got to flush it when you do and focus on the next pitch or the next play," Griffith said. "I had trouble finding my arm slot in the field today, but the rest of the team picked me up."
Griffith -- who went 4 for 5 with 4 RBI in a 13-3 Game 1 win and then 3 for 5 with 3 RBI in an 8-3 win in Game 2 -- did plenty of lifting of his own.
"He's our spark plug, the one who gets us going as our leadoff guy," Gainesville coach Jeremy Kemp said. "He's a fun player to watch, and it was even sweeter because he didn't start off right and he just kept battling. But that's the kind of player he is. He's such a fighter one bad play doesn't faze him."
Michael Gettys earned the win in Game 1, striking out nine in a complete game performance. Griffith earned the win on the mound in Game 2, though he had plenty of run support, including a series-clinching three-run home run from Brandon Sewell.
"We were in a dogfight from the start, and I'm just glad I got something I could drive," said Sewell, who crushed a two-strike pitch off the scoreboard to turn a 3-2 Gainesville lead to 6-2 for some much-needed breathing room. It was his second homer of the night, including a solo shot in Game 1.
"That was huge," Griffith said. "I needed some run support. ... We faced some adversity today and hit the ball really well and found ways to get runs in."
The Red Elephants (24-6) await the winner of the Harris County-Starr's Mill series, which will go to Game 3 on Thursday. The Red Elephants will play host to the series, regardless of the winner, starting on Tuesday at Ivey-Watson, start time to be determined.
GAME 2: GAINESVILLE 8, SEQUOYAH 3
Caleb Whitenton got the start and pitched a no-hitter through four innings until Sequoyah scored two runs to knot the game at 2-2. The Red Elephants showed their determination, firing right back into the lead in the sixth and then blowing the game open with a five-run seventh.
The Red Elephants jumped ahead immediately, Griffith notching his fifth hit of the series before coming home on a sacrifice fly from Michael Curry for a 1-0 lead in the top of the first.
Gainesville made it 2-0 on Drew Wright's RBI in the fourth, bringing home Drew Satterfield.
Seqouyah tested Whitenton in the bottom half of the fourth, as the pitcher walked Evan Ezell and Daniel Seres with no outs on the board. The pair moved into scoring position on a sac bunt from Tyler Holmes, but the threat ended there, as Whitenton induced a fly out to Gettys in centerfield -- the senior's arm keeping Ezell at third -- and then to Wright in left field.
But Whitenton couldn't keep Sequoyah quiet in the fifth, the Chiefs notching three straight singles -- from Grant Pfost, Jacob Cagle and Tristan Roberts -- to load the bases with one out and chase Whitenton. Griffith entered and gave up a first pitch, two-run single to Evan Ezell to knot the game at 2-2.
Griffith would not let the score stand.
In the top of the sixth, Griffith laced an RBI single to centerfield, scoring Sewell to give the Red Elephants back the advantage at 3-2.
Sewell did the rest, crushing a three-run, seventh inning home run off the scoreboard, scoring Gettys and Michael Curry for a 6-2 lead that would be all Griffith needed -- though Griffith wasn't finished, capping his night with another two-run single to make it 8-2.
GAME 1: GAINESVILLE 13, SEQUOYAH 3, 6 Innings
It took a deficit and four full innings to spark the Gainesville offense, but once the Red Elephants warmed up in the bottom of the fifth there was no doubt as to the outcome.
Trailing 3-0, Gainesville scored 11 runs on nine hits and three walks to put the game out of reach. Sims Griffith provided plenty of the firepower on his own, going 4 for 5 with four RBI -- three in the fifth, which saw 15 Gainesville batters come to the plate.
With Gettys pitching, it was more than enough, as the senior went the distance on the mound, allowing just three hits while striking out nine Chiefs. Gettys also helped his own cause, going 3 for 4 with three RBI, while Brandon Sewell finished 2 for 3 with a solo home run.
After cruising through the first four innings, Gainesville hit a rough patch in the top of the fifth, as the Chiefs put three runs on the board with two outs.
Russ McGlamry drew a one-out walk before Brantley Flanagan singled. Jacob Cagle moved both runners over to set up the first score, Glamry scoring on a passed ball. Tristan Roberts made it 2-0 with an RBI double before Flanagan scored on an error for 3-0.
Falling behind proved the proverbial red rag to Big Red.
After piecing together four singles through four innings, Gainesville zeroed in on the Chiefs pitching staff. Fedrick Cardona got the offensive explosion started, smacking the first pitch he saw for a single, Wright followed with his own single before Griffith put Gainesville on the board with a two-run double. Erikson Lanning got one strikeout -- and then the hit parade continued.
Gettys, who finished 4 for 5 in the series, and Curry each drove in runs to put Gainesville in front, 4-3, before Caleb Whitenton singled to chase Lanning from the game. The Chiefs could not stop the bleeding, however, as reliever Russ McGlamry plonked Sewell and Satterfield in back-to-back at-bats before walking Cardona -- who came back up in the inning -- to make it 6-3. Griffith brought his bat to bear again with an RBI single, while Luke Maddox added a two-run single. By the time Gettys drove in two more runs with a bloop single the Red Elephants owned an 11-3 advantage.
Sequoyah finally got out of the fifth, but Sewell kept the Red Elephants' bats going in the sixth with a solo home run before Griffith closed out the game with an RBI single at 13-3.