The Buccaneers came back from three runs down to tie the game in the top of the seventh inning before benefiting on a couple of Purple Hurricane errors to snatch a win in the eighth.
"It [was] a good ball game," Cartersville coach Stuart Chester said. "We [didn't] make the plays we [needed] to make, the pitches we [needed] to make. At the plate we hadn't geared up for the [Lucas] Brown kid. All around, it was our ball game we gave away, basically."
Allatoona trailed 4-3 to start the seventh but Austin Rogers led off with a double to left field -- which nearly cleared the fence inside the foul pole -- to put himself in scoring position.
After advancing to third base on Elliot Blakes' sacrifice bunt, Rogers scored on Nick Hall's single to tie the game at 4-all.
The Canes got themselves out of the inning by turning a groundout into a double play.
In the bottom half of the seventh, Cartersville began the inning like the Bucs had earlier, getting a leadoff double to left from Zach Ross.
However, the Canes were unsuccessful in moving Venters over to third as Allatoona reliever Clate Schmidt struck out the side to take the game into the eighth.
Following a strikeout and a walk by Cartersville's Connor Justus, things slowly began to come apart as the Canes committed two straight errors on throws to first base. The last one allowed two runs to score.
The Bucs then got an RBI single from Schmidt to pad their lead.
In the bottom of the eighth, Cartersville managed a single, from Ben Venters, but failed to score any runs, putting a stop to its monthlong winning streak.
The win by Allatoona (15-2, 12-1 Region 7-AAA), a third-year school, created what should be a thrilling race for the region title as the Canes (13-3, 12-1) and the Ringgold Tigers (14-1, 12-1) also have a lone region loss. Cartersville beat Ringgold 6-1, and the Tigers defeated the Bucs 15-0.
"You know, they got a good ball club, a good team. They got a lot of pitching. They made the plays they had to make," Chester said of the Bucs. "That's the game of baseball. I said from the beginning ... [that] the region champion out of this region would [probably] end up with one or two losses."
With the arms at the top of the rotations of Allatoona, Cartersville and Ringgold -- ranked Nos. 9, 4 and 1, respectively, in the GACA coaches' poll -- the teams can beat each other team on any given day.
But Bucs coach Keith Hansen has not doubt who is ahead of the logjam, even if the standings do not say so at the moment.
"To me, Cartersville, hands down, is the best team in the state -- and our division -- and Ringgold is right there with 'em," he said. "I'm just happy to pull out a victory today."
Earning the win for the Bucs was Schmidt, who struck out five and gave up two hits in two innings. Brown, Allatoona's starter, turned in his best performance of the season, going six innings with one earned run, four hits, one hit batter and seven strikeouts.
"That's the best game he's thrown all year," Hansen admitted.
Canes starter Sam Howard's outing may not have been his best of the season, but the senior southpaw was in line for the win when he left at the end of the fifth. Howard gave up three earned runs on four hits and four walks while striking out six.
Kendall Hawkins -- one inning, walk, strikeout -- and Justus pitched in relief with the latter taking the loss. Justus threw two innings, allowing one earned run on four hits and a walk with one strikeout.
Cartersville started off the game well as it hunted down its 14th win in a row.
After Justus was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the first, the Canes were the benefactors of the three Bucs errors. A pickoff throw gone awry put Justus on third base and a booted grounder scored the Cartersville shortstop.
Cory Collum then hit a single to put runners on first and second with two outs. Just as it looked as though Allatoona would escape the inning with minimal damage, the Bucs' third error emerged on a dropped flyball in center field. Bennett and Collum came home to put the Canes up, 3-0.
Hansen talked to his players following the conclusion of the inning.
"Ninety percent of these guys have been with me since before their freshmen year, before the school opened [in 2008]. The one thing we kept on them [about] is you gotta win each inning," the Allatoona coach said. "After that first inning we pulled 'em off to the side and we said, 'Guys, just play your game. Relax. It's a hostile environment. They are the best team in the state, in my opinion, and you just play your game and we'll be fine.' And they just plugged along. And, you know, they helped us out. I thought we hit the ball well and our pitchers were very good today, and their pitchers were [matching] us pitch for pitch.
"They made errors late -- we made ours early is what it came down to."
The Bucs picked up their first run in the third on Schmidt's leadoff homer to left, which cut the deficit to two.
Cartersville, however, got a home run from Ross, also to left field, in the fourth to push the lead to 4-1.
Allatoona responded with a fifth inning that saw Schmidt draw a walk before Rogers blasted an opposite field home run to right field.
Though it was the Bucs' propensity to hit the long ball that helped them get back in the game, Blakes' bunt in the seventh to set up the game-tying hit could have been as big as any of those home runs.
"We're sort of a younger version of Cartersville. We like to swing the bat, but we tell them you can't overlook the little parts of the game," Hansen said.
Leading hitters for Allatoona were Schmidt, 2-for-4 (two RBIs, walk); Rogers, 2-for-5 (two RBIs); and Blakes, 2-for-5. Hall (1-for-5, RBI) and Bradley Lewis (1-for-3, walk) also added hits for the Bucs.
The Canes were led by Ross, who went 2-for-3 with an RBI, and also got hits from Venters (2-for-5), Collum (1-for-3) and Taylor Wilson, 1-for-4.
Cartersville ended its longest stretch of the season -- five games in six days -- with four wins and will look to regroup after its first loss since a 5-4, extra-inning defeat at Parkview on March 8.
"It's been a long week. Everybody's tired. That's our fifth game this week," Chester said Saturday following the loss. "It makes you stronger. Two things can happen -- either you can get up and dust yourself off and move on and learn from it, or you can let it eat at you and implode. ... And if we let this eat at us enough, we'll implode.
"This is gonna be iron sharpening iron. aWe get to play 'em again, and we'll just get ourselves [dusted] off and come in here tomorrow and go to work and practice and get after it next week."
The Canes host Cedartown Monday at Richard Bell Field. The game, which begins at 5:55 p.m., will preceded by a ceremony honoring veterans, military personnel and community public servants. Congressman Phil Gingrey (R-Georgia, 11th District) will be on hand to throw out the first pitch. A Blackhawk helicopter from Dobbins Air Force Base also will be flown in as part of the festivities.
Canes 16, Southeast Whitfield 0
Playing for the third time in as many days, Cartersville made quick work of the host Raiders on Friday as it won for the 13th straight time.
The Canes scored four runs in the first, one in the second and 11 in the fourth inning to bring the game to an end via the GHSA mercy rule.
Zach Ross had a three-run double for Cartersville, Ben Venters added a three-run homer and Colin Bennett and Harris Battle had one- and two-run singles, respectively.
Canes assistant coach Kyle Tucker said all nine starters had a hit in the game, which was won by starter Ben Dittmer who threw four innings and gave up two hits while striking out six.
"The good thing about us playing our third [game] in a row [is that] we have been playing pretty well offensively, so it's good to keep playing," Tucker said Friday of Cartersville, which beat Northside-Columbus and Dalton on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. "You want to keep playing when you're hot."
The Canes, he said, approached each game with the same attention to detail, making sure not to peak ahead.
"The kids know that in baseball you can get humbled real quick. Coach [Stuart] Chester does a good job of making sure the kids stay focused every day," Tucker said.