However, the Canes scored four runs in the final three innings to came back from a three-run deficit to beat Class AAAAAA Lassiter 5-4 Saturday at Richard Bell Field.
“It was a big game today, of course it being Lassiter and the kind of program they have, and to just play a game during region and be able to win,” Cartersville head coach Stuart Chester said. “That’ll put us at six games in 12 days so its good to play a game on a Saturday during region.”
Cartersville got five hits in the last three innings, but two of the hits stood out in the bottom of the seventh. With runners on first and second and one out, Riley Richards delivered a base hit up the middle to score Elliott Anderson and tie the game at four apiece.
“Man, that was a big hit,” Chester said. “To have a 1-2 count on you and to be selfless. [Riley] didn’t try to pull it. He didn’t try to put it out of the park. He Just kept his hands in the middle and drove it back up the middle.”
Two batters later, Cameron Neal drove an inside fastball into the left-center field gap with the bases loaded to walk off with the win.
“[Lassiter pitcher Casey Robbins] threw a first-pitch fastball inside and then a curveball back in the dirt. I knew he was going to come back inside, and I had to get my hands inside and hit it and try to make something happen,” Neal said. “Coach always tell us that we have to shorten our swing to make something happen and put it in play.”
Chester is pleased to see his offense produce big hits and believes his team is clicking as the team draws closer to the postseason.
“Timely hitting today was key,” he said. “It’s bitten us a couple of times, in games against Collins Hill and Brookwood, not getting the timely hit. Now is a great time in the season to get them. I’d rather not get them early [in the season] and then things start to click. Players feel more comfortable now than a month ago.”
Through the first three innings, Lassiter was the team getting the timely hits and led 4-1.
Lassiter scored a run in the first inning on an RBI single by Nick Esposito. The Trojans then scored another two runs in the second on two walks, a hit batsman and a double.
Anderson got the start for Cartersville and struggled in his first start in 15 days after two strong performances against Coahulla Creek and Parkview in March.
“It was just one of those days. Some days you have it and some days you don’t,” Chester said. “Today was one of those days where Elliott struggled a little bit, but he got us through a couple of innings.”
Lassiter added a run in the fourth, but Cartersville’s bullpen held the Trojans scoreless in the last three innings, keeping the game close enough for the Canes’ late-inning rally.
Lane Wilson pitched the third and fourth innings before Micah Smith pitched a scoreless fifth. Jack Mayo then pitched the final two innings and struck out two while allowing one hit.
“Credit the next guys who came in there with Lane, Micah and Jack,” Chester said.” You win a game like that by committee, it speaks volumes for your program.”
In all, Cartersville played 20 players in the game.
“With it being a non-region game, we wanted to give everybody an opportunity to get on the field,” Chester said. “It’s just a headache with 25 guys sitting over here, and be able to scratch and claw, and it be legal.”
Several Canes came off the bench and contributed to the win but the starters were able to score a run in the first inning when Christian Demastus hit a deep sacrifice fly to score Clifton Dempsey from third base with the bases loaded.
Cartersville did not score again until the fifth inning when a wild pitch with runners on first and second scored a run. Pinch hitter Jacob Fowler then hit a sacrifice fly to make the score 4-3.
After a scoreless sixth, Destin Herron walked with one out to put a runner on base in the seventh. Anderson then walked to put Herron in scoring position for Riley’s RBI single.
Elliott Berrey followed Riley and walked to load the bases for Neal, who won the game with his hit.
Chester believes his team’s comeback was a result of its tough out-of-region schedule in the beginning of the season.
“I think you have to give tribute to our schedule. We’ve been down a lot against good teams — Brookwood, Collins Hill, Marist. There’s been a day when Kell rolled around here and we were down 8-2 in the sixth and wound up winning 9-8,” Chester said. “Those things can happen. It speaks to the kids being tested. I don’t think you get the production right there if the kids hadn’t been through what they’ve been though.”
Richards not only had the game-tying hit, but he walked twice and was hit by a pitch in his first three plate appearances.
Seven different hitters accounted for Cartersville’s seven hits in the game.
The Canes are now 10-8 and will resume region play Tuesday at home against Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe.