As a result, splitting the first two games to necessitate a third game may not have been what Chester was hoping for given the lack of experience of his remaining available pitchers.
However, one advantage the Canes do have in today’s Game 3 is that they have proven over the course of the year that they do not rely on one ace or just a few talented bats atop the lineup. Rather they rely on a deep roster characterized by production from players when it is least expected.
The Cartersville baseball program has had major college talent before, but this year’s team has formed an identity based on its production from one through nine in the batting order, to go along with a long list of solid pitchers.
The Canes have already seen unlikely players rise to the challenge in their first six playoff games so far.
With starting pitcher Hunter Osborn sidelined with an injury, Garrett Rutledge was left as the lone experienced playoff starter on the staff. While Rutledge has performed as well as expected and given Cartersville three complete games, junior Lane Wilson and sophomore Elliott Anderson have stepped up to fill the void in the pitching staff.
Wilson started Game 1 in the first round against White County and pitched six innings, allowing one earned run and striking out five in a 3-2 victory. He then came in on relief Tuesday against Callaway and pitched the final 2 2/3 scoreless innings to preserve a one-run lead and send the series to a third game.
Anderson also has risen to the challenge and has pitched 9 1/3 innings, allowed four earned runs, and has struck out 10 batters in two starts this postseason.
Cartersville will need another pitcher to step up in Game 3. Who that pitcher will be has yet to be determined, but if the postseason trend continues, Cartersville will receive another strong performance from an unexpected source.
A similar trend has developed in the Cartersville batting order as well. After losing nine everyday players from last season’s state championship team, Cartersville had little playoff experience returning and was relying on a whole new cast of players to hit.
In the first six games of the postseason, the Canes have gotten production from all nine batters in the order.
The most noticeable example of this has been from David Darnell and Mark Quattlebaum, the No. 8 and 9 batters in the order, respectively.
Darnell and Quattlebaum combined to reach base five times in 10 plate appearances in the two games Tuesday. Quattlebaum went 2-for-3 with two walks in the two games, including a crucial RBI double in the fourth inning of Game 2 that provided an insurance run. The double made the score 4-2 and Cartersville eventually won 4-3. Quattlebaum now has an on-base percentage of .647 in the playoffs out of the No. 9 spot.
So far this postseason, either the Nos. 7, 8 or 9 batters have led off an inning eight times for Cartersville. Of those eight innings, the Canes have scored at least one run in five of those innings and have produced 11 runs.
Cartersville will again hope to get production from one of its unheralded players in Game 3, today at 5 p.m., after it was rescheduled due to rain.