Chester acknowledged that the Blue Devils, who hosted the best-of-three series, fielded a lineup more than capable of hanging an embarrassing loss on anyone.
And while Columbus' 14-4 romp in the series opener only counted for one win, the Blue Devils (29-3) got the boost they needed, sweeping the Purple Hurricanes in two games -- even with Cartersville (24-7) competing more favorably in a 3-1, Game 2 loss.
"In games like this it's all about momentum. They got the momentum from the get-go -- in the first inning, in the first game -- and they never let up and we never did anything to stop it or to change it," Chester said after his team ended its season in the Elite Eight for the third straight year.
"[You] gotta do something to stop that, whether it [you] make a play or make a pitch. When it gets on a roll like that right there, you gotta stop it," the Canes coach continued. " ... To their credit, they do things to where you can't stop it."
In Game 1, Columbus loaded the bases in the bottom of the first against Cartersville's Kendall Hawkins, scoring two runs on a wild pitch and Josh Lester's sacrifice fly to left field.
The Blue Devils added two more runs in the second when Keith Sims hit a grounder back to the pitcher and Spencer Draws hit a grounder as well, to first base, for a 4-0 lead.
The Canes clawed back for one run in the top of third, trimming the lead to three on Tripp Jamieson's run-scoring hit to left. A potential second run was cut down at home plate when Columbus perfectly executed the relay throw.
Columbus continued its streak of plating a run in each inning with its biggest output yet, a six-run third that featured a pair of back-to-back home runs.
Lester led off with a homer to right field and Hunter Swilling followed up by sending his long ball over the left-field fence for a 6-1 lead.
After consecutive two-out singles from Keith Sims and Kyle Carter, J.T. Phillips delivered Columbus' third homer of the inning, a three-run blast to left.
Once again, the Blue Devils strung two homers together as Draws' homer to right made it 10-1 in favor of the hosts.
Four more runs came in for Columbus in the bottom of the fourth with the Blue Devils getting a pair on the same play -- on a fielder's choice and a Canes' error -- as well as two on Phillips' hit to center.
Despite being down 14-1, Cartersville fought back for its most productive inning of the game in the fifth. The Canes connected for four hits while scoring three runs, one on Beau Benefield's RBI single and two on Brandon Wells' hit -- both went to left.
The game ended, though, after the top of the fifth with the Blue Devils claiming a mercy-rule win.
Connor Justus (1 for 2, hit by a pitch), Jamieson (1 for 3, RBI), Michael Goss (1 for 2, walk), Beau Benefield (1 for 3, RBI), Wells (1 for 3, two RBIs), and Michael Willard (1 for 3) had hits for Cartersville.
Offensive contributors for Columbus were Carter, one hit; Phillips, two hits (home run, five RBIs); Draws, one hit (home run, two RBIs); Lester (home run, two RBIs); Swilling, one hit (home run, RBI); Anthony Padron, one hit; Ryan Long, one hit; and Keith Sims, one hit (two RBIs).
Carter (four innings, earned run, two hits, three walks, hit batter, eight strikeouts) picked up the win, while Hawkins (three innings, eight earned runs, seven hits, five walks, hit batter, two strikeouts) received the loss.
Phillips followed Carter's brilliant effort with more domination from the mound. He held the Canes to three hits in the second game, allowing one earned run. He also struck out seven while walking one and hitting two batters.
Phillips helped himself out a great deal in the top of the third -- the Blue Devils played as the visitors in Game 2 -- with a two-run homer to right.
Columbus added another run in the fifth, ruining an otherwise solid effort from Cartersville pitcher Tyler Will. Will was tagged with the loss after going five innings with three earned runs, three hits, three walks and one strikeout.
Jojo Underwood provided the final margin when he launched a two-out homer to left for the Canes' only run of the game.
Jamieson (1 for 3), Goss (1 for 1, walk, hit by a pitch) and Underwood (1 for 3) had all of the team's hits.
The Blue Devils didn't erupt offensively either, getting contributions from Phillips, Draws, Lester and Padron, who had two hits.
Columbus may have finished with five home runs in two games, but its coach didn't credit that outburst for his team's ability to move on to the semifinals.
"I just think we got outstanding pitching. Those home runs were not very characteristic of us, and we'll take 'em but the reason we're here and the reason we're moving on is because of our pitching and our defense. We didn't give 'em any extra outs," Blue Devils coach Bobby Howard said. "We didn't walk a lot of guys and pitched really well. That was the key to the series."
Howard also lauded Phillips, who stole the show after Cartersville determined that Carter, his more-heralded teammate, wasn't going to beat it.
"He had a couple of big hits, too, so I was really proud of him for that," Columbus' coach continued. "They walked Kyle to get to him and he made 'em pay a couple of times and that was huge."
The Canes had chances against the Blue Devils' 1-2 punch, but they weren't many.
"We didn't make a lot of opportunities. Of course, it's to their credit. They keep you out of a situation to make opportunities, and [they] make all the plays defensively," Chester said. "Our approach at the plate I thought was pretty good. You're facing two of the top pitchers in the state. I thought we could've produced a few more runs. We left some runners on there in a couple of innings.
"They're a good baseball club. You can't take anything away from them, and you can't hang your head when you get beat by them 'cause we've been in this situation before and they have too. It's just a good series to play. It's fun for, I'm sure, everybody, the fans. And one of us has gotta come up on the short end, and we came up on the short end."
Since 2005, Cartersville and Columbus have faced off in the playoffs six times, including once in the championship series, in 2009. The Blue Devils have won four of those matchups, but they next time the two meet the stakes won't be as high.
Both Chester and Howard have said on record that they plan to schedule a regular-season meeting for the two championship-caliber schools -- though they won't play in the playoffs for the foreseeable future.
Columbus moves up to Class AAAA next year; Cartersville will remain in Class AAA.
"They do a great job. It's a pleasure playing them, I just don't like playing 'em 'cause they're so good," Howard said of the Canes.
The Blue Devils coach didn't even take a minute to bask in the glory of a potential last playoff victory over Cartersville, finding it hard to believe the series was over after two games.
"I don't know if I take anything from it 'cause I want to get off the field before somebody changes their mind [about whether] we won 'cause they're so good. That's very uncharacteristic of us to sweep them," Howard said. "We're a little more seasoned than them. We had more people coming back."
It may be a different story, he noted, when the two play during the season in 2013.
The Canes returned just two starters this year, Justus and Ross, who hit a towering shot in Game 1 that was caught at the warning track.
Due to his team's relative inexperience, Chester had nothing but praise for his team.
"To come and battle Columbus like we have, my hat's off to these guys," he said. "I told 'em they ain't got a thing to hang their head about. Actually, what they've accomplished is a huge feat, replacing as many seniors as we did from last year's team.
"The two things I saw [from] them this year is they got better, No. 1, as a team and, more importantly, as [men]. Forget the lights, forget the scoreboards. What they've done and what they've accomplished this year as a person, they're gonna carry for the rest of their lives."