Murray County High School Indians

April 11, 2014

Prep Roundup: Bruins power past Cats for key victory at home

TUNNEL HILL — Similar to Wednesday’s Sub-region 7B-4A baseball series opener at Dalton High School, Northwest Whitfield fell behind early Thursday versus the Catamounts.

But like the first contest in this three-game series, it only took one inning and one swing to change that. Now, the Bruins are one win from clinching another sub-region title.

Edwin Hernandez’s three-run homer tied the game 5-5 in the second inning, and Northwest scored seven more runs in the third inning before winning 17-7 at Richard S. Chumley Field in a game shortened to six innings by the mercy rule.

It was a key victory for the Bruins (14-4, 10-1 Sub-region 7B-4A), who entered this week’s series with Dalton (13-6, 8-3) in a tie for first place in the league standings. Now the Bruins own the head-to-head tiebreaker with Dalton if the teams finish tied when the regular season ends.

After that, the winner of each sub-region will face the other in the Region 7-4A championship series, with both teams entering the best-of-three set guaranteed of making the Class 4A state playoffs. The No. 2 team from each of 7-4A’s sub-regions will play the No. 3 team from the other, with only the winners of those series advancing to state.

On Thursday, the Cats scored three runs after sending only four batters to the plate against Bruins starting pitcher Andy Whisenant. Cole Shelton’s two-run triple preceded Grant Sane’s sacrifice fly, and after Northwest scored just one run in the bottom half of the first despite loading the bases with one out, Dalton tacked on two more in the next inning for a 5-1 lead when Jake Roberts scored on an error and Charlie Martin added an RBI single. That mimicked Wednesday, when Dalton held a 4-2 lead through three innings.

But Northwest’s offense made the most of Thursday’s second bases-loaded opportunity. Omar Hernandez scored when the umpires called Dalton starting pitcher Brock Nelson for a balk, and Edwin Hernandez’s second home run of the series came just three pitches later to tie the game. Edwin Hernandez finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored.

“We’re hitting the ball pretty well now,” Edwin Hernandez said. “We’re seeing it well.”

The third inning was filled with mistakes for Dalton. Walker Maret scored on a wild pitch for a 6-5 Northwest lead, the Bruins’ first of the game. A bases-loaded single from Will Brock, who finished 3-for-5 with three runs scored, made it 7-5, and Andy Whisenant and Edwin Hernandez scored on wild pitches. Dalton relief pitcher Tucker Sumner, who replaced Nelson earlier in the inning, walked in a run and allowed a two-run single from Maret as Northwest finished the inning ahead 12-5.

“We’re getting help up and down the lineup,” Northwest coach Todd Middleton said. “Sometimes it’s not everyone, but I think everyone got in the mix a little bit today.”

The inning included four walks, three wild pitches, two errors and two hits.

“We saw it last year,” Dalton coach Shane Ramsey said. “Walks always come back to bite us, and so did errors. If we can stop that, we have a shot.”

Nelson, a freshman, pitched two full innings and allowed eight runs (six earned) on five hits and six walks. Sumner pitched 2/3 of an inning and all four of his runs allowed were unearned. He walked three and gave up two hits.

Dalton’s Shaw Richardson pitched the last out of the third plus the fourth and one out in the fifth and gave up two hits and a walk. He allowed a fifth-inning, two-run homer to Caleb Shiflett.

Dakota Tankersley finished the fifth for the Cats and allowed the game-ending three-run homer in the sixth to Diego Peralta, who finished 2-for-5 with two runs scored.

“We didn’t hit our spots pitching,” Ramsey said, “and we couldn’t stop their momentum. We need to do a better job stopping them. ... They had runners in scoring position all night.”

Dalton’s best inning after the second against Whisenant, who pitched a complete game, was the fifth. The Cats loaded the bases with one out, and Martin and Shelton had an RBI single and bases-loaded walk, respectively. Martin, who had three hits, and Shelton, who had two, were the only Dalton batters with multiple hits. Jake Roberts had a hit and stole four bases.

Whisenant allowed five earned runs on eight hits, with four coming in the first two innings, and eight walks. He struck out 10 and dealt with runners in scoring position in each inning except the last.

“He never looked real comfortable out there,” Middleton said, “but he battled the whole way and got some big outs.”

Shiflett scored twice, as did Seth Pierce, who drew a walk in each of his four plate appearances.

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