By Devin Golden
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.
• Cartersville 14, Coahulla Creek 1: The Purple Hurricanes won in six innings against the host Colts (4-14, 1-8 Region 5-3A).
Coahulla Creek’s Michael Ward had a hit and scored the lone run for his team when Hayden Lock drove him in with a first-inning sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Zack Glines pitched 3 1/3 innings and allowed six runs (five earned) on six hits and a walk with one strikeout. Ward pitched 2 2/3 innings and allowed eight runs (seven earned) on six hits and five walks.
• Ringgold 10, North Murray 3: The Tigers held North Murray to four hits as Ringgold won for the second time over the Mountaineers in Region 5-3A play.
Blake Davis was 2-for-3 with a solo homer in the third as North Murray (8-13, 4-5) closed to within 4-2 in the inning after an Aaron Granger sacrifice fly brought in Drake Fowler, who had doubled earlier in the inning.
Brady Harper had an RBI single in the fifth to cut the lead to a run, but Ringgold scored six runs in the last two innings to pull away.
• North Murray girls 161, Murray County 170: North Murray’s Tillie Hughes shot an 11-over-par 48 to earn medalist honors and lead the Lady Mountaineers to victory at Spring Lakes Golf Course in Murray County.
Hali Sheram’s 54 and Emily Brogdon’s 59 were the other counting rounds for North Murray, while Murray County’s score was compiled by Rebekah Wildes (54), Amber Lewis (55) and Emily Lewis (61).
Southeast Whitfield had just one competitor at the event and so was ineligible for a team score, but Hannah Dempsey shot a 52 for the match’s second-best round.
• Ringgold girls 88, Northwest Whitfield 101: Marlee Bingham shot a 46 for the Lady Bruins, while Emilee McKinney (55) also scored at WindStone Golf Club in Ringgold.
• Ringgold junior varsity boys 182, Northwest 188: Tyler Lindsey shot a 41 for Northwest, which also had scoring rounds from Pate Higgins (42), Elliot McBrayer (49) and Adrian Clark (51).
• Murray County, North Murray and Southeast played a boys match at Indian Trace Golf Course in Chatsworth, but results were not reported by The Daily Citizen’s deadline.
• Murray County boys 7, Armuchee 0: Jose Ruiz had five goals, Fernando Arias scored once and Murray County (9-3, 9-2 Region 7-2A) benefited from an own goal to win at home.
Roberto Zuniga made two saves as Murray County, which led 4-0 at halftime, celebrated senior night.
Murray County is in second in the league standings behind Calhoun with five matches remaining.
• Armuchee girls 7, Murray County 0: Armuchee scored a goal in the waning seconds of the first half to take a 2-0 lead to the break and used that momentum in the second half to roll past host Murray County (4-8-1, 4-8 Region 7-2A).
• Northwest girls 10, Cedartown 0: Juliana Gomez had a hat trick as the Lady Bruins led 8-0 at the half and finished the game after 58 minutes of play because of the mercy rule.
Cynthia Coronel had a pair of goals, while Andrea Garcia, Ashlee Huynh, Vanessa Lara, Haley McClure and Nancy Paz each had goals as well. Gracie Holmes recorded the shutout in goal for the Lady Bruins (10-2).
Northwest will now wait to host Sub-region 7A-4A No. 3 seed Gilmer at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Region 7-4A playoffs.
• Dalton boys 9, Silverdale Baptist Academy (Chattanooga) 0: The Cats (12-4) rolled at home, getting singles wins from No. 1 Jacob Johnson, 6-0, 6-2, No. 2 Shazman Ali, 6-0, 6-0, No. 3 Nathan Bryant, 6-0, 6-0, No. 4 Will Alderman, 6-0, 6-1, No. 5 Ryan Harper 6-1, 6-0, and No. 6 Wyatt Cushman, 6-0, 6-2.
Doubles wins came from No. 1 Sam Dyer and Nicholas Nelson, 4-6, 6-1, 6-0, No. 2 Thomas DeLay and Taylor Mathis, 6-2, 6-1, and No. 3 Jake Myers and Evan Pope, 6-3, 6-2.
• Silverdale Baptist Academy (Chattanooga) girls 6, Dalton 3: The Lady Cats (8-8) got a singles win from No. 4 Sydney Tankersley, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, and doubles wins from No. 2 Shelby Fromm and Mary Margaret Snipes, 6-3, 6-2, and No. 3 Kate Adams and Callie Walker, 6-1, 6-3.
• Murray County girls 4, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 1: Murray County (12-1) picked up the road win behind a singles sweep, getting wins from No. 1 Greta Lazzarotto, 6-1, 6-0, No. 2 Gabbie Bordelon, 6-0, 6-1, and No. 3 Allison Jones, 6-0, 6-1. In doubles, Murray County’s No. 1 team of Chloe Brown and Kailey Webb won 6-1, 6-2.
• LFO boys 3, Murray County 2: In doubles, No. 1 Adolfo Ayala and Tristan Moore won 6-3, 6-0, and No. 2 Noel Moreno and Blake Jackson won 7-5, 7-5, for visiting Murray County (1-12).
• Northwest girls 3, Heritage-Catoosa 2: A singles sweep helped the Lady Bruins finish the regular season on a winning note at Edwards Park in Varnell.
Winners for the Lady Bruins (7-5, 3-2 Sub-region 7B-4A) — who will be a No. 3 seed at next week’s Region 7-4A tournament — were No. 1 Gracie Cansler, 6-0, 6-0, No. 2 Sara Richards 6-1, 6-1, and No. 3 Halley Henderson, 6-4, 6-2.
• Heritage boys 4, Northwest 1: The Bruins (9-3, 3-2 Sub-region 7B-4A) lost their regular-season finale at Edwards Park, but they will still be seeded third for the Region 7-4A tournament.
Northwest’s lone win came in doubles as No. 1 Cody Bourff and Blake Frankenberger won 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Track and field
• Coahulla Creek did not report results from a scheduled home meet. Southeast did not report results from a home meet that included Murray County, which also did not report results.