Purple Hurricanes coach Stuart Chester noted his team's good pitching as well as its stellar defense.
"We got up, [dusted] ourselves off and came back to play baseball after getting knocked down Saturday," Chester said of Cartersville's error-riddled 8-4 loss to Allatoona. "Eventually the bats came around [tonight], and we were able to put it away."
Leading 8-3 in the bottom of the sixth -- a couple of innings after the Bulldogs scored two runs in the fourth -- the Canes placed three consecutive runners on base as Colin Bennett was hit by a pitch, Michael Goss singled to right and Trent Willingham smoked an RBI double down the third-base line.
Cartersville added another run on a dropped flyball in right field before Harris Battle hit a long single -- which had home-run potential -- off the left-field wall to load the bases.
Two batters later, Connor Justus roped an RBI single to left to put the Canes further ahead, 11-3. Another error brought in Cartersville's 12th run before Ben Venters' RBI single ended the game courtesy of the GHSA mercy rule.
Drew Flatford was credited with the win, going five innings with two earned runs, four hits, two walks, one hit batter and six strikeouts. Kendall Hawkins also looked impressive in his relief performance for the Canes. Hawkins made quick work of Cedartown in the sixth, striking out the side on 10 pitches.
Cartersville hitters picked up steam as the game went along as the team ended up with 11 hits. Justus finished 1-for-3 (RBI, hit by a pitch, walk); Luke Daniel was 1-for-4 (two RBIs, double, walk); Venters hit 1-for-4 (RBI, walk); Bennett went 2-for-2 (home run, RBI, walk, hit by a pitch); Cory Collum finished 1-for-3 (RBI); Goss went 1-for-1; Battle was 2-for-4 (RBI); and Asa Williams hit 1-for-4 (RBI).
Cody Mesta (home run) and Jimmy Hand (sacrifice fly) had RBIs for the Bulldogs. Taylor Truett took the loss, pitching three innings with six earned runs, six hits, two walks, one hit batter and two strikeouts. Wesley Burchfield also pitched for Cedartown, going three innings with three earned runs, five hits, two walks, two hit batters and one strikeout.
The Canes were celebrating Military Personnel-Public Servants Day at Richard Bell Field, and Chester did not know what to expect from his team after a nearly 30-minute ceremony that saw Congressman Phil Gingrey (R-Georgia, 11th District) throw out the first pitch, a Blackhawk helicopter enter the stadium and depart as well as several former and current veterans and local law enforcement personnel take the field at one time or another.
"I was kind of worried to start with. What I saw was a calm, cool-headed approach [from the players]," the Cartersville coach said. "It was a different routine for us."
The Canes eased any concern of a slow start when they put up three runs in the first, which featured an RBI single up the middle from Collum. Collum scored when pinchrunner Trey Graves got hung up on first base but escaped as a Bulldogs infielder turned his attention to Collum, who slid home safely for a 3-0 Cartersville lead.
Cedartown led off the second with Mesta's home run to left field to cut the deficit to 3-1.
The Canes, however, extended the lead in the third when Bennett led the inning off with a home run to right-center field. Cartersville also plated runs on RBI singles from Battle and Williams and a two-run double from Daniel.
The night was special for the Canes and all in attendance at Richard Bell Field.
"It's a very rewarding night for us that we can recognize the people that protect us and serve us every day. We're very blessed to be in a country where freedom is not free, but it's given to us by our military personnel [and public servants]," Chester said afterward. "It's rewarding to be able to recognize, in a public forum, everybody that puts their hands together to make our lives better here in Cartersville, Bartow County, the state of Georgia and the entire country."
Cartersville (14-3, 13-1 Region 7-AAA) travels Thursday to play LaFayette at 5:55 p.m.