Northwest Whitfield High School baseball coach Todd Middleton didn’t want to talk about next week’s series before this week’s ended.
Between now and next Friday, the Dalton Catamounts will receive all of his and the Bruins’ attention.
Northwest won via mercy rule, 13-2, on Friday in the third game of its three-game series with Southeast Whitfield. It is the Bruins’ 10th straight victory and keeps them without a blemish in Sub-region 7B-4A play, which is equal to what their biggest rivals have done.
Middleton said after Wednesday’s win against Southeast (4-12, 1-8) he didn’t want to talk with his team about the looming series with the Cats. After Friday’s victory, the topic came up.
“We talked about it,” he said. “It’s important. They know that. We’re tied for first place with them. It’s definitely important.”
Next week will be a matchup of undefeated first-place squads as Dalton (10-6, 9-0) and Northwest (14-3, 9-0) battle in a three-game series, with the winner entering the regular season’s final week with a clear advantage for the sub-region championship. The series starts at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in Tunnel Hill, continues at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Dalton and concludes at 5:30 p.m. Friday back on the Bruins’ field.
“We need to make sure we take care of game one,” Middleton added. “That’s all we’re worried about right now. It’s a great rivalry and it’ll be fun, but we’re looking at it as just the next step.”
Andy Whisenant pitched all five innings for the Bruins on Friday, allowing just three hits and three walks while striking out three. Neither of the two runs he allowed were earned.
At the plate, Brandon Smith and Brady Middleton each went 2-for-3, while Diego Peralta went 2-for-3 with three RBIs.
Edwin Hernandez was 3-for-3 with one RBI. A.J. Orozco was 2-for-3 with one RBI. Seth Pierce went 2-for-2 with three RBIs, plus a two-run home run in the first inning. Whisenant helped his cause with an RBI single.
Southeast coach Brad Lofton did not report his team’s statistics by The Daily Citizen’s deadline.
• Coahulla Creek’s scheduled Region 5-3A matchup with Ringgold in Varnell was postponed due to wet field conditions. It has been rescheduled for today at 1 p.m.
• Northwest boys 4, North Murray 0: The Bruins (10-3) scored three times in the second half despite having just 10 players on the field, and the Mountaineers (9-2) lost another non-region match against a ranked Class 4A opponent.
Christian Perez scored in the first half to make it 1-0, which was the halftime score. Near the end of the first half, both sides had dangerous plays and the referee issued cards.
“In the first half, we kind of lost our heads a bit and a couple cards got handed out to both sides,” Northwest coach Ryan Scoggins said. “At the end, it was a bang-bang play and their player banged into our keeper (Miguel Deanda). Then a couple minutes later the same thing happened on their side. Our kid (Damien Lara) got a yellow card, but theirs didn’t. So our kid kind of acted out of frustration and yelled and got a red card.”
In the second half, Miguel Villa scored off a header from Cielo Nunez’s corner kick to give the Bruins a 2-0 edge. Northwest then scored twice off penalty kicks — one from Perez and another from Jonathan Marquez. On the first one, David Perez was fouled in the box. On the second, North Murray was called for a hand ball.
“It was a quality win for us,” Scoggins said. “North Murray is a great team and is having a great season.”
Northwest is ranked No. 5 in eurosportscoreboard.com’s Class 4A coaches poll. The Mountaineers lost earlier this season to Dalton, which is ranked No. 1 in the same poll. North Murray holds the No. 10 ranking in the Class 3A list.
Despite the loss, the Mountaineers are still in first place in Region 5-3A. They have a 9-0 record and play third-place Coahulla Creek on Monday at 5 p.m. in Varnell.
“We played pretty decent in the first half and played better in the second half,” North Murray coach Matt Chambers said. “In the final 15 minutes, we let things get a little out of control with the officials. I think both teams could say that. There were a lot of yellow cards handed out.
“My only fear is that I don’t want that to come over into our region play.”
Deanda made six saves in goal against the Mountaineers’ six shots. Manuel Gonzalez had seven saves against Northwest’s 23 shots.
• Northwest JV boys 3, North Murray 0: David Paz scored twice for the Bruins (7-1) and Juan Navarro scored the other. Adrian Mariscal and Luis Velazquez each had one assist. Rigo Martinez had his seventh straight shutout in goal.