May 5, 2013

Northwest-Grady series pushed to Monday

Devin Golden
devingolden@daltoncitizen.com

— Northwest Whitfield High School baseball coach Todd Middleton hasn’t decided who will pitch his team’s biggest game of the season so far.

But he has a guess for who the Bruins will be hitting against.

The deciding third game in the Bruins’ Class 4A first-round state playoff series against Grady, which started Friday with a doubleheader split and was scheduled to conclude Saturday, was postponed due to inclement weather and rescheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday at Richard S. Chumley Field in Tunnel Hill.

Northwest (22-6) lost the first game 3-1 as Grady’s ace, Liam Henery, pitched a complete game and allowed only six hits. He struck out four, walked just one and the Grey Knights (11-13) never trailed.

“I expect to see him,” Middleton said of Henery. “He only threw 80-something pitches.

“I guess he just kept us off balance, mixed speeds well and we didn’t adjust to that. We didn’t go with our gameplan.”

Seth Pierce, the Bruins’ ace, also pitched the entire game while allowing nine hits and striking out six. When asked if Pierce will pitch on Monday, Middleton said, “He won’t start.” The sophomore eclipsed the 100-pitch mark in the game.

This leaves Northwest’s other two starters — Andy Whisenant and Wade Terrell. Whisenant started in the second game, an 11-8 Northwest win, and pitched four innings while allowing seven runs. Terrell pitched the final three innings, earning the win, and allowed just one run off four hits.

“It will depend on how everybody feels Monday,” Middleton said. “Wade and Andy didn’t throw that many pitches (Friday). One of them threw 50-something and one threw 40-something.”

Pierce, Whisenant and Terrell have been the Bruins’ rotation all season long during Region 7-4A’s three-game series format. Divided into sub-regions, teams played each of their sub-region foes in a week-long series during the regular season.

Aside from being the first-game starter, Pierce also has been the team’s second- or third-game closer. In the region title series against Cass, Pierce pitched the seventh inning of the third game and earned the save in the Bruins’ 7-6 win.

“I’m not ruling anything out, but again it depends on how he feels,” Middleton said. “It’s on two days of rest and he threw a lot of pitches.”

Monday includes a 60 percent chance of rain, according to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City. If Monday’s game is blocked due to weather, Middleton said the game will take place Tuesday, which includes a 20 percent chance of rain. The winner moves on to face Region 8 runners-up Stephens County in the second round. All second round series begin Wednesday, according to ghsa.net.

“If we had to play Tuesday, then they might move the series back one day,” Middleton said. “I’m not sure. I don’t know if the GHSA would do that or not.”

Middleton said he made an offer to Grady to play the third game on Friday, but it was declined.

“Whoever wins will have a short turnaround, if we get to play Monday even. I would’ve rather played all three games last night,” he said. “The thing it does is gives pitchers some more rest.”