However, thanks to strong pitching performances by Wyatt Barnett and Lane Wilson, the Cartersville baseball team was able to overcome its futility with runners in scoring position to squeak out a 1-0 victory against Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe Tuesday at Richard Bell Field.
“We got where we were producing with runners in scoring position, and then today, we probably left, I’m going to guess 10 on, or close to it,” Cartersville head coach Stuart Chester said. “You just can’t do that. You’re one or two swings away from having a great day.”
Cartersville was still able to pull out the victory when Clifton Dempsey took a four-pitch walk to score Riley Richards in the sixth inning. Richards reached on an infield single and stole second base. Elliott Anderson was then hit by a pitch.
Two outs later, pinch hitter Jacob Fowler walked, which brought up Dempsey for the eventual winning run.
LFO starting pitcher Hadyn Griffin had held Cartersville scoreless for most of his outing, but lost control of the strike zone in the middle of the sixth. Griffin walked Fowler and Dempsey, each on four pitches, before he was relieved.
Cartersville’s run spoiled an otherwise strong outing for Griffin.
“[Griffin] had a nice slider and he kept you off stride,” Chester said.
Meanwhile, for Cartersville, Barnett and Wilson combined to shut out LFO. It is the second time this season the Canes’ pitching staff has shut out the Warriors. In both games, LFO produced just four hits.
Barnett got just his second start of the season and pitched five innings, allowed three hits, no walks and struck out five.
Wilson came on in relief and pitched two frames, allowed one hit and struck out two Warriors. Neither he or Barnett allowed a runner to reach scoring position in the game.
The Cartersville pitching staff has allowed just six runs in eight games during region play and the team’s depth becomes more apparent each game.
“Wyatt was injured the beginning of the season. To get some innings under his belt, it just gives us another lefty,” Chester said. “It makes our pitching staff even deeper. We put about a 60-pitch count on him today and he got through that. It was time to come out, so we brought Lane in to get him some innings. It’s hard to get all of them some work, but it’s a good problem to have.”
The pitching was able to keep the team in the game while the offense struggled.
Cartersville did put seven runners on base in the first four innings, but could not get a run across.
The Canes left the bases loaded in the first. They then had two runners on base with no outs in the fourth inning and could not advance them.
Chester believes his team did not respond well to spring break because the Canes had been hitting well with runners in scoring position in the past few games.
“They don’t really know how to prepare when they’re not in school,” Chester said. “They’re young, inexperienced like that.”
Cartersville still has won nine of its last 10 games and is 7-1 in Region 5-AAA.
Like past Cartersville teams, Chester is hoping his batters find their stride as the playoffs begin.
“With the weather, it just seems that once we get in a rhythm, we get rain,” Chester said. “We cannot get in a rhythm and we’re still searching. We’re trying to find answers to some things and we’re still in the region. We just want to be able to get to the playoffs, and hopefully, be able to gel and be firing on all cylinders then.”
Richards had two hits for Cartersville, including an infield single that allowed him to come around to score in the sixth inning.
Garrett Rutledge had a strong performance at the plate as well. He singled twice and advanced Richards to third base on a deep flyball to right field in the sixth inning.
Cartersville is now 11-8 on the season and will look to improve its record Thursday at Coahulla Creek.