Cartersville claimed its seventh win in the month of April with a 4-1 victory against visiting Heritage-Catoosa, a game which was delayed in the top of the second because of rain.
With Kendall Hawkins on the mound, the Canes didn't exactly require the full arsenal from an offense that had been scoring at an 11-run clip in its previous six games. The Cartersville senior had control of the game for much of the night, striking out five and surrendering four hits in a complete-game effort. He allowed just one walk.
That was a stark contrast from General starter Jake Sampson, who sat the Canes down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first before he began issuing a multitude of walks. Sampson ended the night with four walks and a hit batter in only 2 1/3 innings pitched. He gave up one earned run on one hit while striking out three.
Meanwhile, Hawkins worked out of the only real trouble he saw all night in the sixth inning. He yielded a leadoff single to Lee Gibson, and after recording two outs, Heritage placed runners on the corners when a Cartersville infielder lost a pop fly in the lights.
Hawkins then loaded the bags full with a walk to Sampson, but he battled Jordan Liles to earn an inning-ending strikeout.
The Canes, ahead by two runs, added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth as Michael Willard made contact on a Blake Hamilton pitch, roping an RBI single to left field to provide the final margin.
Willard, who finished 1 for 2 with a walk, was one of five Cartersville players with a hit against the Generals. Other Canes' hits came from Zach Ross (1 for 4), Tripp Jamieson (1 for 3, walk), Jojo Underwood (1 for 2, home run, walk) and Asa Williams (1 for 2, walk).
Hitters for Heritage were Gibson, 1 for 3; Hunter White, 2 for 3 (double); and Sampson, 1 for 2 (walk).
Heritage took its only lead after Jordan Liles' grounder scored a General pinch runner. White's double to the left field corner turned around a Cartersville player to put Heritage in business before rain delayed the game for close to an hour.
The Generals came out of the rain delay with two groundouts to go up 1-0, but Underwood, the Canes' second baseman, jumped all over a Sampson pitch to tie the game up with a home run to left.
Sampson then proceeded to walk three of the next four batters before delivering a wild pitch with the bases loaded. Beau Benefield scored on the pitch in the dirt as Cartersville led by one run -- 2-1 -- after two innings.
The erratic pitching continued for Heritage in the third, with Sampson hitting Connor Justus and walking Jamieson. Blake Hamilton came on in relief for Sampson but showed not much more control at the onset. Hamilton uncorked a pair of wild pitches that brought home the Canes' third run.
The young General pitcher eventually settled down, holding Cartersville scoreless for a couple of innings before Willard's run-scoring hit in the sixth as the hosts preserved their seventh straight victory. Hamilton finished with one earned run, four hits, one walk and seven strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.
The Canes (17-3, 14-2 Region 7-AAA) entered the evening a half game ahead of Ringgold, which also was in action Monday night at Pickens. The two teams are slated to play Friday at Richard Bell Field.
The game is scheduled for 5:55 p.m., but prior to the slugfest between the two region rivals, the Cartersville baseball team will honor former Cartersville Little Leaguer Garrett Black. The 8-year-old died last March after being struck by a bus. Festivities for Garrett Black Day are set to commence at 5:45 p.m.