The Canes (17-6, 11-0) clinched the region championship with their hardfought 5-3 victory over the Ringgold Tigers Monday at home.
“Give our players all the credit,” Canes coach Stuart Chester said. “Their goal was to play hard and to win the region championship once again.”
Ironically, it was Ringgold that snapped Carterville’s six-year run as region champions last season.
Making sure that payback would prevail was Connor Justus, the Canes’ starter and winning pitcher, who enduced a game-ending groundout in the top of the seventh inning.
“I had thought about making a pitching change in the fifth inning, but Connor was determined to finish it,” Chester said. “You could not have dragged him off of the [pitching] mound with a tractor.”
Monday’s game began with Cartersville taking a 2-0 lead in the second inning on Ty Flower’s two-run single.
The Tigers (15-7, 8-3) came back with two of their own in the top of the third inning before the Canes’ Austin Adams broke the 2-2 tie with a solo home run in the bottom of the third inning. Cartersville doubled its lead to 4-2 on Tripp Jamieson’s solo home in the fifth inning.
It was 5-2 heading into the top of the seventh when Hayes Linn singled in Beau Benefield in the bottom of the sixth.
In Ringgold’s seventh, the Tigers had already scored a run and had a runner at second base with two out when the tying run stepped to the plate.
With the game ending ground out, Justus won by giving up just three runs on seven hits, while striking out nine.
With the win, the Canes find themselves on a four-game winning streak since returning from Florida.
“Right now, our job is to build momentum with our remaining regular season games prior to the start of the region playoffs,” Chester said.
Cartersville won its third straight Friday when it defeated West Forsyth, 11-4, in a game played at Turner Field.
The Canes took a 6-0 lead in the top of the first, only to have West Forsyth come back to score four in the bottom of the second inning. A five-run sixth inning accounted for Cartersville’s final runs.