The Gainesville Hurricanes faced the Chiefland Indians at Tiny Talbot Field

Epic Comeback at the Hogtown Preseason Classic between Gainesville and Chiefland

The Gainesville Hurricanes and Chiefland Indians squared off for their first preseason game of the 2022 season on Thursday, Feb. 17.  The two teams faced each other in the Hogtown Preseason Classic held at Tiny Talbot Field.

Chiefland Starts Strong

The Indians got off to a quick start against the Hurricanes. Through walks, pass balls, and solid hitting, the Indians put up four runs in the first three innings. Right-handed pitchers Seth Campbell and Junior Brown dominated the mound. Campbell allowed only one run through two innings, and Brown kept Gainesville scoreless in the third. After three innings, Chiefland took a solid 4-1 lead.

Fourth Inning Fiasco

Gainesville sent out the senior left-handed pitcher Jack Herrbold to the mound to start the top of the fourth inning. Herrbold quickly gave up a single to Seth Campbell and walked both Braden Smith and Colton Brown.

With the bases loaded and no outs, Taylor Brown stepped up to the plate. Brown hit a solid line drive right into the glove of the Hurricanes’ second baseman. When the infielder tried to pick off the man on second, he rifled the ball past the shortstop and into the outfield, allowing Seth Campbell to easily score.

 

The Indians’ momentum seemed to get to Herrbold. With Braysen Jernigan in the box, Herrbold balked, advancing the runners to second and third with one out. Later in that same at-bat, Jernigan doubled into centerfield, scoring the two runners on base and giving Chiefland a 7-1 lead.

After the big play by Jernigan, Junior Brown stepped into the box. As soon as Herrbold threw his first pitch to Brown, Jernigan bolted to third base, sliding in safely for the steal. On the very next pitch, Brown blasted a high fly out into left field, and Jernigan easily tagged from third, scoring another run for the Indians.

With clear bases and two outs, the Indians’ scoring spree finally looked to be over. Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, Herrbold walked Reece Emmons, keeping the Indians alive in the inning. Trey Meeks then stepped up to the plate and belted a shot into left field, scoring Emmons all the way from first.

Herrbold finally ended the 5-run inning by striking out Wade Gore. Through 4 1/2 innings, Chiefland lead Gainesville 9-1.

Gainesville Begins to Rally

After a scoreless bottom fourth inning, the Hurricanes sent out Alex Meert, a right-handed junior, to pitch. Meert faced four batters, allowing only one single and striking out the other three.

Along with the solid pitching, the Hurricanes began to finally get things going on offense. The Hurricanes started the bottom of the fifth inning with Tyler Guarino reaching second after an error at first by the Indians. On the very next at-bat, Colton Kelly grounded a ball into centerfield. As the centerfielder tried to nab Guarino at the plate, Kelly dashed to second, both runners were safe.

Kelly showed off his baserunning skills when Carter Jones and Josh Morrison came to the plate. Kelly advanced to third on Jones’ ground out to second and then later scored on Morrison’s ground out first. Through five innings, Gainesville still trailed 9-3, but the momentum was clearly shifting in the Hurricanes’ favor.

Alex Meert continued to plow through the Chiefland batters in the sixth inning. Through ground-outs and strikeouts, the Hurricane defense gave up no runs to the Indians in the inning.

As Gainesville headed into the bottom of the sixth, everyone in the stadium knew the game was not over. Chiefland sent out sophomore left-handed pitcher Whitfield Sumner to try and put a stop to the Hurricanes scoring. But, after a quick series of an error, two walks, and a balk, Sumner found himself with the bases loaded and only one out.

Feeling the pressure of the moment, Sumner threw a wild pitch to Tyler Guarino that hit the backstop, allowing Nate Kemph to score from third. Later that same at-bat, Guarino grounded one right to the mound, and Sumner tagged out the runner at home on a fielders’ choice. Colton Kelly stepped up to the plate after Guarino. Sumner – who was definitely rattled – balked, allowing another run to score for Gainesville. Sumner finally got out of the inning after catching Tyler Guarino in a pickle, but only after allowing Gainesville two runs, making the score through six innings 9-5.

Insanity in the Seventh

With the final inning beginning, Gainesville still trailed Chiefland by four runs, but Gainesville had momentum on their side.

Alex Meert continued to dominate the Indians’ batters in the top of the seventh. After an infield fly, Meert walked Seth Campbell. On the very next at-bat, Braden Smith dug into the box for the Indians. Smith grounded a ball right at the second baseman, and the Hurricanes were able to turn an impressive double play to cap off Meert’s excellent performance on the mound.

After a tough pitching outing for Sumner, Chiefland handed the ball to Reece Emmons to close out Gainesville. After Colton Kelly grounded out to third, Emmons walked Carter Jones. Josh Morrison came to the plate next and singled into center field, sending Carter Jones around to third.

The Hurricane bench started to come alive. The team knew the game was in their hands if they continued to pressure Chiefland. Right after Morrison’s base hit, Emmons pelted Andrew Pickles with a pitch, loading up the bases with only one out.

Now in a dangerous position, Chiefland head coach Chad Brock pulled Emmons off the mound and put the ball in Tyler Bass’s hands to finish the game.

The pressure also seemed to get to Bass. He walked Nate Kemph, giving Gainesville a run and making the score 9-6 with one out. On the very next at-bat, Jack Herrbold hit an infield single, scoring another run for the Hurricanes.

Down only two runs, Gainesville was so close to making an epic comeback. However, Bass did not lose his composure on the rubber, striking out Alex Meert in the following at-bat.

As Jesus Canizalez came to the plate, he was in the moment every baseball player dreams about: bases loaded, two outs, and down two runs, with the chance to win it all. After falling down into an 0-2 count, Canizalez was in a tough spot. As Bass fired another pitch to Canizalez, he pounded a high fly ball into the deep right field corner. The ball stayed fair and bounced into the wall. The Hurricane runners flew around the bases as the right fielder scrambled to relay the ball back into the infield, but it was already too late. All three runners on base scored, making the final score 10-9 and completing the unbelievable 8-run walk-off comeback victory for the Hurricanes.

 

The Gainesville Hurricanes open their regular season against P.K. Yonge on Feb. 22. The Chiefland Indians open their regular season against Hamilton County on Feb. 21.

About Alex Winn

Sports Journalism student at the University of Florida.

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