Despite a gutsy complete game effort from senior pitcher Chance Sikes, Gainesville dropped its District 9-3A opener 2-0 to Decatur on Tuesday night.
Sikes pitched 7 innings while striking out eight batters and allowing one earned run as the Leopards (5-9, 0-1) fell to the visiting Eagles in a pitching duel at Locke Field.
As good as Sikes was, Decatur pitcher Erik Elder was equally as stellar. The tall right-handed senior, built in the mold of Matt Cain, fired a complete game two-hitter while striking out 10 Leopards to pick up the win.
Decatur’s lone two runs came in the top of the fourth inning -- the only inning the Eagles (6-13, 1-0) managed more than one hit.
In the top of the fourth, Decatur third baseman Christian Carrillo hit a one out single off the lip of the grass immediately in front of home plate. The bounce off the grass went soaring into the air, no lower than 30 feet high. By the time the ball reached Leopard third baseman Jordan Hall’s glove, Carrillo was at first base.
Carrillo’s odd single was the first of the game for the Eagles. Elder would follow with a double the next at bat to give Decatur a 1-0 lead with one out in the fourth inning.
After Elder’s double, Decatur’s Joey Cantu hit an infield single that would turn into a throwing error to allow Elder to score from second base to put the Eagles up 2-0.
Gainesville threatened in the bottom of the sixth inning when the Leopards led off with a walk. Two fielders choices later, Denzel Johnson came through with an infield single to move Hall to second while he was the tying run at first base. Elder would get Tag Sparks to pop out to center field to end the inning.
Sparks had the only Leopard hit up to the sixth inning - a two-out single to right field in the first inning. He finished 1 for 3 while Johnson was 1 for 3 as well.
Sparks, a catcher on defense, made a pair of dazzling throws to catch back-to-back base stealers in the top of the third inning after the Eagles got two guys on with a Leopard error and a walk.
Gainesville will travel to play Sanger at 7 p.m. Friday.