The first game of the Rawlings Select Classic caught Cartersville baseball as flat as coach Stuart Chester has seen his team this season.
With Canes ace Anthony Siegler on the mound, Walnut Grove was able to bring home two runs in the first three innings with some weather-aided flares and the Cartersville offense started stagnant.
But the whole team seemingly woke up in the fourth inning, knocking in four runs to flip the scoreboard as the Hurricanes (16-6, 5-2 Region 5-AAAA) went on to rout Walnut Grove (13-9, 5-3 Region 8-AAAAA) 10-2.
“We came out as flat as I’ve ever seen us,” Chester said. “I think it’s that spring break curse or something. … I told them after the game, the first four innings, that’s not Hurricane baseball. I thought we came out a little bit flat and didn’t do the little things we needed to do, but we hung in there and woke the bats up there mid-game.”
For the Hurricanes’ offense, Chester believed it was a fourth-inning bunt by third baseman Brant Smith that really awoke the offense.
In the first three innings, Cartersville had a few opportunities—including two men in scoring position with no outs in the third—but couldn’t capitalize.
Finally in the fourth, Cartersville was able to scratch across a run with a one-out double from Jacob Fowler.
When Smith came up with two men on and one out in the fourth still down 2-1, he was just aiming to move the runners over. However, his bunt was struck hard enough to slide under the glove of first baseman Carter Wood, allowing Smith to reach.
From there, Cartersville strung together a walk, sac fly, single and another walk to bring in three more runs before the inning would end.
From then on it was nothing but offense for the Hurricanes, who scored another in the fifth and then broke the floodgates open with a five-run sixth inning behind a double from Devin Warner, who finished the game 2-for-3, and a big triple from J.P. Martin.
“We had the bottom of the order on a couple times and we didn’t produce, but [Smith] got the bunt down and got on and that gave us an opportunity and Preston came up and did a good job getting on,” Chester said. “When we get them on in front of Siegler and Warner, that’s usually big innings.”
On the mound, Siegler allowed a hard-hit single to Warriors leadoff man Jaree Pledger, and that was about the last hard-hit ball Walnut Grove had on him over his four innings of work.
Even so, a second-inning leadoff walk followed by a couple flares and then almost the exact same sequence with two outs in the third inning gave the Warriors their two runs.
But Siegler didn’t let that affect him and was able to get through one more composed inning and keep Cartersville in the game.
Seigler allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits, two walks and two strikeouts over four innings.
“He just didn’t have his stuff today but the great thing about Anthony is he pitched and located,” Chester said. “When you don’t have your stuff and you locate and hang in there like he did, he didn’t panic, he didn’t squeeze it, he located and put us in a position to hang in there and come back and take the lead.”
A solid bullpen trio of Jake Gooch, Levi Ayers and Harrison Osborn pitched three shutout innings—one apiece—allowing just three hits and no walks with three strikeouts.
Noah Daniel matched Warner with two hits, while Fowler also starred, going 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs from the No. 6 spot in the lineup.
The Canes will progress in the tournament and have a doubleheader tomorrow, facing Dunwoody at LakePoint at 3:30 p.m. and an as-yet-undecided opponent at 6.