By Robert Wilson
Hartfield Academy’s Reid Gaston was playing baseball against junior high players a year ago. Now, the sophomore left-handed pitcher/designated hitter is playing against guys who will be playing in the SEC and possible major league draft picks when they finish high school.
Despite the big jump, Gaston is excelling, especially last week in Hartfield’s first MAIS Class 6A conference series in school history.
Gaston hit .555 (5 of 9 at bats) with 3 doubles, 1 home run, scored 3 runs and 4 runs batted in in three games and was the winning pitcher and allowed four hits and one earned run in five innings in one game to lead Hartfield to a three-game sweep against Presbyterian Christian last week.
For his outstanding performance, Gaston was named the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Baseball Player of the Week.
Gaston, who bats in the cleanup position, was a big reason why Hartfield entered this week as the only undefeated team in conference play in MAIS Class 6A. He had two doubles and was the winning pitcher in a 9-1 win in Game last Tuesday at PCS in Hattiesburg. Gaston had a home run and a double, scored two runs and had four RBIs in a 10-6 win in Game 2 in the first game of a doubleheader Friday at Hartfield in Flowood. He had a single and scored a run in a 5-3 win in Game 3 in the second game of the doubleheader.
“Reid is having a breakout year,” said first-year Hartfield coach Justin Smith, who was promoted from assistant to head coach when Chuck Box left to become the director of player personnel at Texas A&M. “For a guy who played junior high baseball last year to now being one of the best players on the varsity team is pretty remarkable. Reid has a lot of natural ability but has put in a ton of work to become a high-end player.”
Gaston leads the team with a .456 batting average, 11 doubles, a .560 on base percentage and a .702 slugging percentage and also has 20 runs scored, 17 RBI and one home run going into this week for Hartfield, which was 15-3 overall going into this week’s series with Jackson Prep. He has a 4-2 record, a 2.30 earned run average and 22 strikeouts and 15 walks in 23 innings.
Hartfield plays at Prep, ranked No. 21 in the nation by Perfect Game, in a doubleheader Friday at 5 p.m. in Flowood. Hartfield, which lost to Prep 6-0 Monday, and Prep are tied for first place in the conference at 3-1.