Murray County

March 30, 2013

Prep roundup: Pierce helps Bruins grab series sweep

RINGGOLD — Seth Pierce threw seven innings Tuesday to start the Northwest Whitfield High School baseball team’s three-game series with Heritage-Catoosa.

He only needed four pitches to end the series.

The sophomore ace — and sometimes closer — recorded the final out Friday in a 7-5 win at the Generals’ field, the Bruins’ seventh straight victory and another series sweep in Sub-region 7B-4A play.

In Tuesday’s 2-1 win, Pierce struck out 13 Heritage batters, walked one and allowed a hit. On Friday, he finished the job Andy Whisenant started and nearly completed for Northwest (11-3, 6-0). Whisenant threw 6 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs off six hits and one walk while striking out three.

With two outs and a runner on second base in the seventh, Pierce entered to face Jarred Porter. After throwing a ball on his first pitch, Pierce tossed three straight breaking balls for the strikeout. Whisenant said Pierce did well against Porter on Tuesday.

“I could’ve stayed in, but Seth made the kid look silly last time,” said Whisenant, who went 3-for-3 at the plate.

With the Bruins leading 1-0 in the first inning, Whisenant walked the first batter he faced and made a bad throw trying to get an out at second base on a sacrifice bunt. Following a sacrifice fly and an RBI single, the Bruins trailed 2-1, but they scored four runs in the second off  Heritage (5-9, 3-3) starter Ryan Parker.

With the bases loaded, Northwest’s Diego Peralta drove in Kyle Brock with a sacrifice fly, and Edwin Hernandez’s RBI single scored both Whisenant and Brandon Smith. Hernandez, who finished 2-for-4 and had an RBI single in the first inning, scored later in the third on a wild pitch.

Parker hit three batters and walked another in his two innings on the mound.

“He just wasn’t hitting spots (with his pitches),” Heritage coach Eric Beagles said. “It wasn’t anything other than that.”

Blake Hamilton pitched the next five innings for the Generals. He allowed two runs in the third off Whisenant’s two-run single, which drove in Pierce and Wade Terrell for a 7-2 lead.

Whisenant allowed three runs in the fourth but retired Heritage in order in the fifth and sixth. He pitched to the first three batters in the seventh before coach Todd Middleton made the pitching change. Middleton said Whisenant was on a shorter leash after the fourth inning.

“For whatever reason, it was like the first few innings were warmup pitches,” Middleton said.

Northwest, which swept Ridgeland last week, faces Southeast Whitfield in a three-game series next week. In their six sub-region games this season, the Bruins have outscored opponents 36-11.

“It helps to have four or five guys you don’t mind throwing out there,” Middleton said. “We’ve used the same three starters (Pierce, Terrell and Whisenant) in both series, and it has helped us.”

• Dalton swept a Sub-region 7B-4A doubleheader in Rossville, beating Ridgeland 9-1 in each game to improve to 7-6 overall and remain undefeated six games into league play.

In the first game, Will Erwin allowed an unearned run on two hits and six walks while striking out six for a complete-game victory.

Jake Roberts was 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Kaleb Hill had a hit and drove in two runs.

Grant Sane and Dakota Tankersley each had a hit and drove in a run. The Catamounts’ big inning was a seven-run second; they scored one run each in the first and third, and Ridgeland’s lone run came in the sixth.

In the second game, Michael O’Brien pitched for the win, allowing an unearned run on three hits and six walks while striking out one. Omar Lara allowed a hit and two walks in two innings of relief, while Blake Evans allowed a hit and struck out one in the final inning.

Charlie Martin was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, Hill was 2-for-2 and drove in a run and Brandon Dale added a hit and an RBI. Dalton scored four runs in both the second and third innings before adding its final run in the fourth. Ridgeland’s run came in the second.

Dalton has swept each of its first two three-game series in sub-region play — the Cats took three games from Southeast last week and topped Ridgeland on Tuesday — outscoring opponents 73-18 during that six-game stretch.

“Our pitching has been great,” Cats coach Shane Ramsey said. “We struggled early in the year scoring runs. We would have hits and people in scoring position but we couldn’t score. Now we’re doing it — we’ve been more aggressive early in the game at the plate and it’s helped.”

North Murray 9, Gordon Central 2: Aaron Granger struck out nine in six innings as he pitched the Mountaineers (6-7, 3-1 Region 5-3A) to their third straight victory.

Granger allowed two unearned runs on four hits and a pair of walks in the road win. Jared Campbell worked the final inning, striking out two and walking one while allowing no hits.

The pitchers had plenty of help at the plate as North Murray tallied 18 hits. Jared Goswick, Ethan Lents and Cole Vaughn each had three — Vaughn had two doubles and Lents had one — with Lents driving in a pair of runs and Goswick and Vaughn each driving in one.

Jared Campbell had two hits and two RBIs, while Brandon Brock added two hits and Granger and Alex Viars each drove in a run.

 North Murray scored one run in the first, four in the third, two in the fourth and two in the seventh. Both of the Warriors’ runs came in the third.

“The pitchers are starting to trust the guys behind them,” North Murray coach Steve Granger said. “At the beginning of the season, I felt like our pitchers were trying to do it all. But they started trusting and thinking that they don’t have to strike them all out. And we have better approaches at the plate. Before, I felt like the kids were swinging at pitchers’ counts instead of hitters’ counts.”

Coahulla Creek 2, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 0: Blake Phillips hit well for the Colts (5-9, 2-3 Region 5-3A), and he pitched even better.

The senior threw six innings in the home win, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out five. He also had an RBI double to help his cause. Tucker Sheram pitched the final inning, retiring the Warriors in order.

Zack Glines was 2-for-2 and Braiden Jacobs added an RBI single for Coahulla Creek, which scored in the first and third innings.

“Our pitchers have come along,” Colts coach Michael Bolen said. “They’ve been throwing and just now are hitting their midseason form. We’re trying to wake the bats up.”

LaFayette 9, Southeast 4: The Raiders (4-9, 1-5 Sub-region 7B-4A) allowed five runs in the first inning and lost the rubber match on the road in the three-game league series with the Ramblers.

Jose Vargas was 2-for-4 with an RBI double and a run, Devin Gentry was 2-for-4 and Pedro Vargas added a hit and drove in a run.

Zack Ramsey started on the mound but couldn’t finish the first inning for the Raiders. Noah Ramsey threw four scoreless innings in relief, allowing just three hits.

“We didn’t hit it real well tonight,” Southeast coach Brad Lofton said. “We got down in a hole early with pitchers not throwing strikes. ... Noah Ramsey did a good job coming in and throwing strikes.”

Mount Paran 3, Christian Heritage 1: In a late result from Thursday, Michael McKinney didn’t give up an earned run while pitching the complete game, but errors hurt the Lions’ cause. Jake Stokes drove in the lone run for Christian Heritage (6-7, 4-4 Region 6-A).

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