Tournaments : : Story
Sunday, July 13, 2014

Team Elite Roadrunners' elite arm

Matt Rodriguez        
POWDER SPRINGS, Ga. – The Team Elite Roadrunners are no strangers to the spotlight in Perfect Game events this summer. The same players who were part of the team that won the WWBA 16u Perfect Game/East Cobb Invitational are back at it again at the WWBA 16u National Championship, and they put on a show Sunday in a doubleheader at Hillgrove High School.

The Roadrunners took two games with 9-0 run-rule victories to move to 4-0 in pool play, outscoring opponents by a 30-2 margin. The bats have come to life for the Team Elite Roadrunners, who have compiled a .359 batting average (33-for-92) with a jaw-dropping .488 on-base percentage. It may be the pitching, however, that has impressed even more. Through 21 innings of work, the pitching staff has combined for a 0.67 earned run average.

The star to the electric staff is 6-foor-2, 215-pound southpaw Jonathan Gettys. Having topped at 93 mph off the mound at past Perfect Game event, scouts gathered at Hillgrove High School Sunday afternoon in anticipation of what kind of stuff Gettys was going to throw this time. He didn’t disappoint. It was a trademark Gettys performance for the WWBA 16u PG/EC Most Valuable Pitcher.

Topping at 93 mph, Gettys proved to be too much for the Memphis Tigers 16u bats to handle. Through three innings of work, Gettys struck out seven of the ten batters he faced and accounted for all three outs in his final inning on the bump. He gave up just a hit and a walk in a shutout appearance.

“He was outstanding, as usual,” said Gettys’ battery mate Michael Curry. “He goes out there and does his thing every time. it’s a pleasure to catch him.”

“At first, I was throwing too many balls, but then I got into it and started throwing more strikes in the end,” said Gettys.

“Jonathan’s just amazing when he’s on the mound,” Roadrunners coach Tom ‘Ernie’ Haire said after Gettys’ outing in the Perfect Game/East Cobb Invitational. “He’s got tons of confidence out there and he was born to pitch. He’s almost unhittable, for a 16-year-old.”

Gettys, ranked 13th in the high school class of 2016, has the support of a veteran backstop in Michael Curry, who’s an elite player at his position as well.

“He’s a good catcher,” said Gettys. “He can catch everything I throw.”

That comes as no surprise to anyone who’s seen Curry play before. Ranked No. 104 in the high school class of 2015, Curry is a critical cog to this Team Elite Roadrunners staff. He brings skills as a catcher and a hitter to the table, as well as the experience of having played on some of the biggest stages in amateur baseball.

Last October, the 6-foot catcher played with the Marlins Scout Team at the WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., which is one of, if not the most scouted event in amateur baseball. Most recently, Curry appeared on the big stage at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla. where he participated in the prestigious invite-only Perfect Game National Showcase.

Despite all of that, Curry believes Gettys has made him a better player as well.

“It definitely makes me better, and definitely makes me look better catching 93 mph, but it’s fun,” Curry said. “It makes it more fun, more interesting, more competitive, and just gets me ready for the next level, that’s for sure.”

A member of the Gainesville High School baseball team in Gainesville, Ga., Curry is familiar with the Gettys’ quite well. Jonathan’s older brother, Michael, just graduated from Gainesville High School, where he and Curry helped lead their team to a AAAAA Final Four appearance just a few months ago.

Next year he will get the younger Gettys brother.

“I’ll catch him next year at Gainesville High School,” said Curry. “I’ve been living with the guy all summer, so it’s gonna be really great chemistry.”

Curry caught Michael a few times in high school, where Michael, a right-hander, topped out at 94 mph on the mound. However, the older Gettys was recently drafted in the Major League Baseball Draft in the second round by the San Diego Padres as a primary outfielder. After all, Michael holds the Perfect Game National Showcase record for throwing 100 mph from the outfield.

“I just wanna be better than him, that’s it,” Jonathan said about being the younger brother of a top draft prospect.

There is no doubt if Jonathan continues to perform the way he has, he will have his shot to outdo his older sibling. The young Gettys is only a rising sophomore and is already bringing 93 mph from the left side. You bet he’s on every scout and college recruiting coordinator’s radar.

In the meantime, however, his immediate goal is to do what he can to help his team win the coveted WWBA 16u National Championship title. It’s a tall task, with around 300 teams fighting it out in the weeklong tournament.

The Team Elite Roadrunners are three pool play games from finishing pool play with a perfect 7-0 record and a potential spot in the bracket round, which will begin Wednesday evening.

“We’ve been doing good this tournament,” said Gettys. “Last tournament, we didn’t do very good. I have a good feeling about this tournament.”

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