The Cartersville baseball team continued its stretch of nonregion games against Class 6A schools Saturday with a day game against Johns Creek at Richard Bell Field.
A five-run sixth inning from Johns Creek proved to be the difference in the ballgame as the Canes fell by a score of 6-3.
“That one inning, just the one or two little errors there, that killed us,” Cartersville head coach Stuart Chester said of the game.
Before the sixth inning, Cartersville scored a run in the fifth to tie the score at 1 apiece after Trevor Lowe was hit by a pitch, moved to second base on a bunt single by Mason Barnett and scored on a passed ball and a wild pitch. However, after Lowe scored, there were runners on second and third base with no outs, but the Canes failed to get the lead runs across, despite having their No. 2 and No. 3 batters up at the plate.
For the game, Cartersville stranded 10 runners on base.
“It was just one of those games where there was a lot of opportunity. We made opportunities. We had opportunities, but [we stranded runners on],” Chester said. “We had bases loaded [in the fifth] with two strikeouts. … We’re one swing away from it being 6-5.”
Stranding runners in scoring position in the fifth would come back to haunt the Canes in the sixth when Johns Creek put up five runs. The inning began with two singles, and the third batter of the inning hit a pop up to the infield. The ball was misplayed and fell to the grass, and there was uncertainty over whether the infield fly rule was called or not. Amidst the confusion, Johns Creek advanced its lead runner from second to third base. The runner on first base stayed put, and the batter was called out.
“The umpires didn’t call anything. It doesn’t matter whether they do or not. Our guys know it’s live,” Chester said of the play. “I think both teams and umpires kind of went brain-dead.”
After the dust settled, Johns Creek responded when Hunter Lee hit a two-run single, Chaz Bertolani hit another single during the next at bat, and a double two batters later made the score 4-1.
“Bottom line is, if you take care of business defensively and don’t get emotional, it’s a different outcome,” Chester said.
It appeared Cartersville would hold Johns Creeks’ lead there as Zach Yancey struck out a batter swinging with a pitch in the dirt. However, the throw to complete the strikeout was dropped at first base and two more runs scored on the error to make the score 6-1.
Cartersville made an attempt at a comeback in the bottom of the sixth, scoring two runs. An error and an infield single by Jacob Fowler put runners on first and third for Lowe. Lowe then dropped a single between the right fielder and first baseman for an RBI. Two batters later, Yancey hit a double deep down the left field line to make the score 6-3.
“Zach did a good job. He did. I was proud of our guys at the plate,” Chester said. “I thought we hit the ball well all game long. We hit some shots right at them. They made some good plays.”
In the seventh inning, Cartersville put two more runners on base with no outs to bring the tying run to the plate, but a groundout and two strikeouts ended the comeback hopes.
Fowler and Parker Tidwell each finished the game 2-for-4, while Lowe went 1-for-2 and reached base twice in the game.
Anthony Seigler started the game and threw four innings left-handed, allowing one unearned run on two hits with five strikeouts. He then took an inning off and came back and pitched right-handed, throwing 1/3 of an inning in the sixth, allowing two runs to score on three hits.
Freshman Mason Barnett saw his first high school action on the mound in the fifth inning. He struck out two and did not allow a run or a hit.
Cartersville is now 0-2 and will host Parkview, the No. 2-ranked team in the nation according to Perfect Game, Tuesday at RBF.