By Doug Hawley
When a high school baseball squad can turn three double plays in the first three innings of a high-profile game, it says a lot for that program’s team play.
That was what happened as Northwest Whitfield took a giant step Wednesday night toward the Sub-region 7B-4A championship by defeating host Dalton for the second straight night, winning 11-5. The Bruins beat the Catamounts 12-2 on Tuesday at Northwest’s Richard S. Chumley Field in a game limited to five innings by the run rule.
Both teams entered this week’s three-game series undefeated in league play, but Northwest (16-3) is now 11-0 in Sub-region 7B-4A, while Dalton (10-8) is 9-2.
The two teams meet again at 5:30 p.m. Friday in Tunnel Hill.
Northwest’s pitching and hitting have been solid in the series, but defense was also in the spotlight Wednesday.
Northwest senior second baseman Brady Middleton — one of three Bruins to collect two hits in the team’s 12-hit output — said he’s been working together with shortstop Diego Peralta since the seventh grade.
Despite his hitting prowess, Middleton said, “I probably expect more on defense. I never expect to make an error.”
Northwest, which had a fourth double play in the seventh frame, committed only one error. Dalton was charged with five miscues, all coming in the last four innings.
“The first thing we do every day at practice is to take ground balls,” said Bruins coach Todd Middleton, Brady’s father. “There’s no telling how many ground balls we take in a week.”
The coach hardly could have been any happier about the victory.
“Winning the series certainly was big,” he said. “We executed well. We had good hitting and good pitching for the most part.”
On Wednesday, that execution included three sacrifice bunts and two sacrifice flies.
Andy Whisenant, who started the game in left field but pitched the final five innings in relief of Wade Terrell, got the win.
“I hadn’t pitched much in relief, but coach said to be ready if Wade faltered,” Whisenant said. “It was a big win since we won the series.”
Coach Middleton chimed in, “I think that Wade had been a little tired. Andy got ready in a hurry. He certainly did a good job.”
Northwest took a 2-0 lead in the first inning against Dalton starter Brandon Dale. Middleton singled and scored on Peralta’s double, while A.J. Orozco had an RBI sacrifice fly to left field.
Dale, the Cats’ leadoff hitter, got some revenge with a home run over the fence in center. Three straight walks led to one more run and a 2-2 tie.
In the third, the Bruins scored three runs to regain a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Hernandez’s double and Middleton’s single keyed the rally, along with two hit batsmen and a couple of wild pitches.
Northwest scored once in the fourth, when Whisenant was hit by a pitch and came home on an error. Orozco’s solo homer gave the Bruins a 7-2 advantage one inning later.
Grant Sane’s three-run homer in Dal-ton’s half of the fifth cut Northwest’s lead to 7-5. A walk to Matt Wells and an error preceded Sane’s shot to left field.
“We all felt pretty pumped up after that,” Sane said. “I thought that we were going to come back and win. We just have to come back in the next game swinging.”
Northwest scored once in the sixth following a walk to Brandon Smith, two errors and Peralta’s sac fly.
The Bruins added three runs in the seventh. Seth Pierce’s double and singles from Kyle Brock, Whisenant and Smith were coupled with two errors.
“We’ve gotten no breaks in this series,” Dalton head coach Shane Ramsey said. “They (Bruins) do a good job of putting you away. Brandon Dale did a great job, both pitching and hitting.”
Dale and Sane each had two hits among the Cats’ five.
Dale, who according to Ramsey threw about 110 pitches, was pulled after six innings. He allowed eight runs (seven earned) and two walks while striking out five. He hit three batters.
Coach Middleton said that Pierce, who halted Dalton in the opener, likely will start on the mound again Friday. Ramsey anticipates Michael O’Brien going for Dalton.
• Cartersville 8, Coahulla Creek 0: Scout Plott had the lone hit for the Colts (6-12, 3-6 Region 5-3A) in the road loss.
Tucker Sheram started and worked the first four innings on the mound, allowing six runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out one. Erick Dominguez pitched the final two innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on a hit and a walk while striking out two.
• Ringgold 11, North Murray 5: Alex Viars went 2-for-4 with a two-run home run and three RBIs, but the Mountaineers (7-10, 4-4 Region 5-3A) came up short in Chatsworth.
Aaron Granger was 2-for-3, while Jared Goswick and Cole Vaughn each went 2-for-4 and Jared Campbell drove in a run for North Murray, which tallied 12 hits.
Goswick started on the mound and lasted 2 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on four hits and five walks while striking out a pair of hitters. Ethan Lents allowed five runs (two earned) on four hits and a pair of walks — he struck out two — in 1 2/3 innings, while Campbell gave up the other run while working the seventh.
• Southeast Whitfield did not report results from Wednesday’s scheduled Sub-region 7B-4A game at Heritage-Catoosa by The Daily Citizen’s deadline.
In late results from Tuesday, Southeast was swept by visiting Heritage in a doubleheader, losing 15-3 and 11-7.
In the first game, Colter Faith and Blake Foster each had an RBI single for the Raiders. In the second game, Foster was 3-for-4 with four RBIs, including a solo home run, while Faith drove in two runs and Austin Pratt added an RBI single.
• Southeast boys 4, Northwest 1: Goalkeeper Abel Mendiola made 14 saves and four different players scored for the Raiders as they dominated to win a non-league matchup in Tunnel Hill and earn a touch of vengeance for last month’s 2-0 loss in Sub-region 7B-4A play.
Erik Salaises, Jorge Hurtado, Byron Miranda and Ramiro Guerrero all scored for Southeast (7-2-1), which led 1-0 at halftime. Miranda, Alex Rosillo and Victor Garcia all had assists.
While Northwest will enter next week’s Region 7-4A playoffs with a better seed than their intracounty rivals, the Raiders hope they gained some momentum with the win at Bruin Stadium.
“I’m thrilled that we were as dominant as we were,” Southeast coach Kevin Kettenring said. “It would have been nice to have the March 22 game a little bit differently if we could switch the two, but I prefer to be where we are now. You learn through those losses. It hurt, but this helps.
“We’re a different team now. That’s what we wanted, to be a different team in April than in March.”
Northwest’s score came when David Perez was fouled with about six minutes to play and Christian Perez converted a penalty kick. Miguel Deanda notched 10 saves in goal for the Bruins (10-4).
“Southeast is a really good team,” Northwest coach Ryan Scoggins said. “We knew that coming in even though we were fortunate enough to get that first win against them. We knew it would be tough, and they really outplayed us all the way around. ... They certainly deserved that win.”
• Northwest girls 1, Southeast 0: Paige Smyth scored early in the first half and the Lady Bruins (8-1) made it hold up to earn the non-region victory in Tunnel Hill.
Gracie Holmes and Deysi Garcia combined in goal to earn the shutout, with Holmes making one save in the first half and Garcia stopping three shots in the final 40 minutes. The Lady Bruins, who beat Southeast 2-1 last month, had 10 shots on goal in the match.
“We had some good shots in the second half, but they really overloaded us on defense,” Northwest coach Anna Stutts said.
The Lady Raiders fell to 4-7.
• Coahulla Creek’s girls and boys matches at Ringgold, which were scheduled for today, have been moved to 5 and 7 p.m. on April 22.
• Murray County’s girls and boys teams both dropped nine-hole matches with Gordon Lee and Sonoraville at Indian Trace in Chatsworth.
In the girls match, Gordon Lee won with a 105, ahead of Sonoraville (112) and the Lady Indians (113), who got counting rounds from Amber Lewis (54) and Rebekah Wildes 59.
In the boys match, Gordon Lee (172) and Sonoraville (179) were ahead of the Indians (231), whose scores were supplied by Donald King (63), Brady Todd (57), Dylan Hubbard (49) and Jake Ice (62).
• Northwest boys 5, Ridgeland 0: The Bruins (4-7) rolled in a play-in match to qualify as Sub-region 7B-4A’s No. 5 seed for next week’s Region 7-4A tournament, which starts Tuesday at Lakeshore Park in Dalton.
Northwest got singles wins from No. 1 Jacob Frederickson, 6-1, 6-4; No. 2 Lane Watson, 6-1, 6-0; and No. 3 Troy Poe, 6-2, 6-0. Ridgeland forfeited both doubles courts, with the Bruins’ No. 1 Thomas Blackwell and Chris Brown and No. 2 Cody Bourff and Blake Frankenberger accepting forfeits.
• Southeast girls 3, Ridgeland 2: The Lady Raiders (1-5), who lost to Ridgeland earlier this season, beat the Lady Panthers in a play-in match to qualify for the Region 7-4A tournament as Sub-region 7B-4A’s No. 5 seed.
Southeast swept doubles with victories from No. 1 Cristina Limas and Gabby Ortiz, 7-6 (6-0), 6-1, and No. 2 Jennifer Alejo and Maribel Cordova, 6-3, 6-1, while also getting a singles win from No. 3 Clarissa Galaviz, 6-2, 6-1.
• North Murray boys 4, Coahulla Creek 1: The Mountaineers improved to 12-2 in Region 5-3A play, picking up the road win behind singles victories from No. 1 Drew Mosteller, 6-1, 6-0, and No. 3 Dylan Davis, 6-3, 6-4, and a doubles sweep by No. 1 Jacob Ledford and Alex Ellis, 7-6 (7-2), 6-1, and No. 2 Mark Lents and Wesley Ross, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2.
Jake Mathis won 6-3, 6-0 at No. 2 singles for the Colts, who are 9-5 in region play.
• North Murray girls 3, Coahulla Creek 2: The Lady Mountaineers improved to 5-9 in Region 5-3A play with a singles win from No. 3 Andrea Dunn, 6-1, 6-4, plus a doubles sweep by No. 1 Hanna Abdelarazzaq and Lindsey Ray, 7-5, 6-2, and No. 2 Hannah Hensley and Kara Deal, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.
Coahulla Creek — which is 6-8 in region play — took the top two singles courts, getting wins from No. 1 Erin Orem, 6-0, 6-0, and No. 2 Katherine Ann Sheppard, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-3.
• Dalton boys 4, Cartersville 1: The Cats (11-2) picked up the non-league victory on the road behind singles wins from No. 2 Nathan Bryant, 6-0, 6-0, and No. 3 Shazman Ali, 6-2, 6-0, plus a sweep of doubles as No. 1 B.J. Rowland and Thomas Delay won 6-0, 7-5, and No. 2 P.K. Bhatter and Will Alderman won 6-1 6-1.
• Cartersville girls 4, Dalton 1: The lone win for the Lady Cats (11-2) was at No. 2 doubles as Rachel Bakker and Caroline Calfee won 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
• Murray County girls 5, Gilmer 0: In non-league action, the Lady Indians (9-5) picked up a road victory behind singles wins from No. 1 Gabbie Bordelon, 6-1, 6-0; No. 2 Allison Jones, 6-1, 6-0; and No. 3 Trinity Rittenhouse, 6-1, 6-3, plus doubles wins from No. 1 Erica Steelman and Chloe Brown, 1-6, 7-5, 7-6, and No. 2 Julie Cole and Kailey Webb, 6-0, 6-3.
• Gilmer boys 3, Murray County 2: The Indians (3-11) got singles wins from No. 1 Shawn Owens, 6-1, 6-0, and No. 2 Jacob Thomason, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.
• Murray County girls 3, Model 2: In a late result from Tuesday, the Lady Indians improved to 4-3 in Region 7-2A behind singles wins from No. 1 Bordelon, 6-0, 6-2, and No. 2 Jones, 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, and a doubles win from No. 1 Steelman and Rittenhouse, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.
• Model boys 5, Murray County 0: The Indians fell to 1-6 in Region 7-2A with Tuesday’s loss.
Track and field
• Southeast split boys and girls competition at Cass, with the Lady Raiders winning 78-58 and the Raiders losing 85-58.
Isabel Salinas was a double winner for Southeast, taking both the 1,600-meter run in 6 minutes, 7 seconds and the 800 in 2:41. Other Lady Raiders winners were Destiny Cooper (3,200, 14:53), Britany Painter (400, 1:08), Kara Felts (200, 28.87), Wendy Perez (discus, 87 feet, 8 inches) and Kayleen Mullins (high jump, 4-10).
For the Raiders, Aaron Thomas took both the 800 (2:13) and 1,600 (5:01), while other winners were Josh Tucker (400, 56.28) and Cody Ensley (discus, 109-8).