The rematch between Bartow rivals Thursday in Adairsville was very different as the game lasted nine innings and was decided by one run.
Despite the competitive game, the outcome was the same for Adairsville, which used another strong starting pitching performance to sweep the season series with the Colonels and win Thursday’s game by a score of 2-1.
“If you talked to me this morning and asked me if I want a game like that, I probably would have said no because of my blood pressure. But I’m glad to see our guys can battle for nine innings knowing we’re living on every pitch, and every pitch matters and every at bat matters,” Adairsville head coach Billy Roper said. “One thing we talk about is, last year, I think we lost seven or eight games by one run. So one thing we preach is we have to find a way to win those one-run ball games.
“I tip my hat to Cass. They came in, we beat them the other day pretty good. I told the guys, ‘They aren’t going to lay down for you, so you have to come out and be ready to fight.’ I’m just tickled to death these guys fought nine innings.”
The game was a pitcher’s dual for the first six innings as Adairsville’s Cody Melton and Cass’ Ben Kapito matched each other pitch for pitch and strikeout for strikeout.
Kapito did not allow a hit until the fourth inning and Melton held Cass hitless through five. Kapito saw some trouble in the fourth inning when Adairsville loaded the bases with one out. However, Kapito would induce a groundball right to shortstop Hunter Southern, who would begin the 6-4-3 double play to end the threat.
The two hits in the fourth would be the only hits Adairsville would get off of Kapito as he went five scoreless innings, allowed two walks and struck out eight Tigers.
Melton also had his best stuff and avoided trouble in six innings of work, allowing no runs, two hits, two walks and striking out seven Colonels.
Tristin Smith relieved Melton in the top of the seventh and Cass was able to manufacture a run when a bases-loaded walk to Southern scored freshman pinch runner Brett Gaddy.
With the lack of offense in the game and the bottom half of the Adairsville lineup coming to bat, the likelihood of a comeback appeared to be slim.
However, senior Hunter Smith led off the inning with a line-drive single up the middle.
Lane Griffith was the next batter and he squared to bunt on the first pitch of his at bat. Cass pitcher Bradley Hood consequently threw the ball in the dirt and catcher Sam Russell was unable to block it before the ball trickled to the backstop. Smith was able to advance to second base on the wild pitch.
On the next pitch, Griffith got down the bunt and advanced Smith to third. Cass was unable to throw out Griffith at first base and the ball got away, scoring Smith and tying the game.
Chris Hill then relieved Hood for Cass and recorded three consecutive outs to send the game into extra innings.
Neither team was able to mount a rally until the bottom of the ninth inning. Adairsville’s Melton was hit with a pitch to lead off the inning.
One out later, senior Spenser Moore lined a single to right field, which moved Melton to third base with one out. Moore advanced to second base on the throw. Tyler Washington then stepped to the plate and laid down a bunt. Cass was unable to field the squeeze play and Melton scored to give the Tigers a walk-off victory.
“I want to give a plug for one of my seniors who came in and got the hit there that got him over. Spenser Moore got the hit that moved [Melton] to third. He hadn’t played all game. He had been sitting there on the bench, but he got his chance and he ripped one,” Roper said. “The squeeze, that’s one of my seniors right there [Washington]. I got all the confidence in the world in him on that because that’s how we practice. We practice that way and the way we practice got us the win.”
For Adairsville, Tristin Smith relieved Melton in the seventh inning and pitched three innings, allowed just one unearned run and picked up the win.
Cass’ Chris Hill pitched 2 2/3 innings and allowed just one run. The Colonels had just three hits, were hit by a pitch four times and walked five times.
Adairsville had four hits in the game and walked three times.
Hunter Smith recorded two hits in the game for the Tigers and went 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Adairsville is now 5-3 and will play Pickens at home Monday.
Cass drops to 2-7 on the season, but will have a chance to get back on the winning track when the team travels to Gilmer Tuesday.