March 21, 2014

Prep roundup: Little things hurt Mountaineers baseball

Marty Kirkland
martykirkland@daltoncitizen.com

CHATSWORTH — North Murray High School’s baseball team has a first-year head coach, new starters at a few key positions and a pitching rotation that still isn’t set.

Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that there are plenty of things the Mountaineers are working on even with region play having started and the regular season halfway over.

On a day when both sides made mistakes, they hurt North Murray more in a 5-3 loss to Region 5-3A opponent Ringgold on Friday.

“It’s going to take experience,” said coach David Redmond, whose Mountaineers dropped to 5-9 overall and 1-1 in region play. “We try to put them in game-type situations at practice, but it’s just hard to rep against a caliber team like Ringgold and the rest of our region.”

The game was tied at 1 after each team hit a solo home run early — Logan Baldwin to lead off the game for the Tigers (10-4, 2-0 Region 5-3A), Lake Burris to lead off the second for the Mountaineers — and the score remained that way entering the fourth, when things took a bad turn for North Murray.

A one-out fielding error by North Murray second baseman Alex Viars allowed designated hitter Chase Burke on board, and Mountaineers starter Cole Vaughn then sandwiched a strikeout with a pair of walks. That brought University of Georgia signee Slade Dale to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs.

The count was full when Dale popped up between first and second, just off the dirt. Viars camped underneath the ball for what looked to be a routine third out, but the sky was overcast with grayish-white clouds at the time and Viars apparently lost the ball on its way down.

It dropped without him touching it. Dale was suddenly safe on first and the Tigers had a 4-1 lead.

“That was a big momentum-killer for us,” Redmond said. “We still haven’t learned to overcome those. Mistakes are going to happen in the game of baseball, we’ve just got to minimize them.”

It wasn’t the first time Friday a routine play went awry for both teams. Viars was the batter in the second when a trio of Tigers converged on his pop fly to shallow right without anyone touching the ball before it hit the ground, putting him safe at second with one out.

Nothing else came of that mistake, but to the Tigers’ credit they didn’t miss their opportunity in the fourth. With the count full, all three runners put their heads down and sprinted — and it was the difference in the game.

“That was a big momentum-killer for us,” Redmond said. “We still haven’t learned to overcome those. Mistakes are going to happen in the game of baseball, we’ve just got to minimize them.”

It wasn’t the first time Friday a routine play went awry for both teams.

Viars was the batter in the second when a trio of Tigers converged on his pop fly to shallow right without anyone touching the ball before it hit the ground, putting him safe at second with one out.

Nothing else came of that mistake, but to the Tigers’ credit they didn’t miss their opportunity in the fourth. With the count full, all three runners put their heads down and sprinted — and it was the difference in the game.

“We always point out that every year we see a few balls that should have been caught,” Ringgold coach Brent Tucker said. “And every year you’ve got to be ready — you can’t just loaf around. Our guys were going hard there and we’re able to pick up three runs. If we’re not hustling we pick up two, maybe one.”

The Mountaineers got a run back in the bottom of the inning on back-to-back doubles by Burris and Brody Frazier and their final run in the sixth as Vaughn scored on a single by Burris.

The next batter was Frazier, who drew a walk to load the bases with no outs, chasing Tigers starter Logan Baldwin. But reliever Zach Morris used a 1-2-3 double play and an inning-ending strikeout to stop the threat quickly. He struck out two in a three-up, three-down seventh.

“He came in with no nerves and did just an excellent job for us,” Tucker said.

Ringgold’s final run came in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Dale.

Neither starter — both left-handers — was dominant, but Baldwin encountered less trouble on his way to the win, allowing five runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out seven.

Vaughn lasted four innings — he allowed two hits and seven walks while striking out seven — before giving way to Brady Harper, who worked 1-2-3 innings in the fifth and seventh.

He allowed one hit but also gave up a walk and hit a batter while striking out two.

Tucker said both North Murray pitchers did well battling his lineup, but he said the Tigers did a good job making them throw extra pitches — something that was especially obvious with Vaughn, who had trouble staying ahead of batters consistently.

Redmond is still working on his rotation, with nothing set save senior Aaron Granger, a Carson-Newman University signee who is 3-1.

While the season is no longer young, the home-and-home region schedule is only a week old, and Redmond seemed to take comfort in having contended with a state-level power in Ringgold. He’s eager for his players to forget the bad parts of Friday’s game and look forward to next week and three more region games.

Burris is ready to do that.

“We’ve got to come together as a team,” he said, “and stop playing as individuals.”

Northwest Whitfield 11, Ridgeland 10: The Bruins (7-3) scored six runs in the final two innings to overcome a 10-5 deficit on the road and sweep their three-game series with Ridgeland to start Sub-region 7B-4A play.

After Northwest scored five runs in the sixth to tie the game, Omar Hernandez walked to start the seventh.

After a liner for the first out, Andy Whisenant was hit by a pitch and Will Brock reached with a bunt single to load the bases. Diego Peralta’s sacrifice scored Hernandez for the eventual game-winning run.

Northwest collected 16 hits one day after coach Todd Middleton said the Bruins needed to be better at the plate. Northwest won 2-0 in Wednesday’s first game of the series and 6-0 on Thursday.

“We had some guys stay during the (junior varsity) game last night and hit in the cage and then came this morning and hit,” Middleton said. “They had better approaches at the plate tonight.”

Whisenant went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in the second and drove in three runs. Caleb Shiflett was 3-for-4 with three RBIs, Peralta was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, Pierce was 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs, Brock was 2-for-5 with an RBI and Hernandez finished 2-for-3.

Logan Hilton took the mound for Northwest with one out in the sixth, finished that inning and pitched the seventh to earn the win. He allowed a hit and struck out three. Walker Maret pitched the prior 2 1/3 innings, allowing one run.

“Walker got us to that inning and they got a runner on second,” Middleton said. “Logan was ready and did a great job closing it out.”

Phillip Hammonds started for the Bruins and lasted two innings, allowing three earned runs on four hits and a walk. Jack Creswell pitched one inning, allowing three runs.

Northwest plays a three-game series with Heritage-Catoosa next week as sub-region play continues.

Cartersville 4, Coahulla Creek 1: Cartersville held the visiting Colts to two hits in the Region 5-3A matchup.

Coahulla Creek (3-8, 0-2) scored its lone run on a fielder’s choice by Jackson Sheppard.

Erick Dominguez was saddled with the loss after giving up an earned run on five hits and as many walks in 3 2/3 innings. Braiden Jacobs gave up three hits in 2 1/3 innings of shutout relief.

• Results from Murray County’s non-region game at Pickens were not reported by The Daily Citizen’s deadline.



Soccer



Westminster boys 1, Southeast Whitfield 1 (4-2): The Raiders (8-3-1) lost on penalty kicks in the semifinals of the Westminster Invitational in Atlanta.

Jaime Arenas scored Southeast’s lone goal in regulation and also converted one of the penalty kicks, as did Ramiro Guerrero.

Southeast will play Oconee County at 5:30 p.m. today in the tournament’s third-place match.

Rome boys 1, Northwest 0: Coming off of Thursday night’s win over Southeast Whitfield, Northwest coach Ryan Scoggins said he wasn’t surprised his team came out flat against Rome in a non-region game rescheduled from earlier this year.

The Bruins (5-4-3) outshot Rome 14-11, but the Wolves scored with 23 minutes left and held on for the win.

Northwest goalie Jose Marquez finished with four saves.

Cartersville boys 2, Coahulla Creek 0: The Colts (7-3-1, 6-3 Region 5-3A) trailed 1-0 on the road at halftime, and the Purple Hurricanes converted a penalty kick in the second half for the game’s final goal.

Cartersville girls 4, Coahulla Creek 1: Regina Pacheco had the lone goal for the Lady Colts (4-7, 4-5 Region 5-3A) in the road loss.



Tennis



Coahulla Creek boys 4, Adairsville 1: The Colts remained undefeated through 13 matches overall, including 11 in Region 5-3A play, with the home win behind a singles sweep from No. 1 Jake Mathis, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, No. 2 Chase Lynch 6-2, 6-6 (3-7), 6-4, and No. 3 Alex Jarjoura, 6-1, 6-1, plus a doubles win from No. 2 Andy Dixon and Austin Lansing, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.

Adairsville girls 3, Coahulla Creek 2: In a home loss, the Lady Colts (10-3, 8-3) got singles wins from No. 1 Erin Orem, 6-1, 6-1, and No. 2 Kathryn Barker 6-2, 6-4.

Dalton JV boys 5, North Murray 0: Singles wins for Dalton (4-1) came from No. 1 Bennett Wills, 8-4 in pro-set play, No. 2 Josh McCraven, 8-0, and No. 3 Wyatt Cushman, forfeit. Doubles wins came from No. 1 Jake Myers and Ethan Ware, 9-7, and No. 2 Evan Pope and Marshall Phillips, 8-0.

Dalton JV girls 5, North Murray 0: Singles winners for Dalton were No. 1 Olivia Tidwell, 8-0, No. 2 Eunice Alvarran, 8-0, and No. 3 Alice Adams, 8-1. Doubles wins came from No. 1 Ally Rowland and Dana Crave, 8-0, and No. 2 Madeline Hughes and Caroline Mathis, 8-2.



Track and field



• Southeast’s boys and girls both finished second to Heritage at the 10-team Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe Invitational.

Southeast’s Luis Perez won both the 800-meter run (2 minutes, 8 seconds) and the 1,600 (4:48), while the Lady Raiders’ Isabel Salinas won the same events in girls competition, taking the 800 in 2:27 and the 1,600 in 5:43. Both were honored as the meet’s top runners.

Other first-place finishers for Southeast’s boys were Martin Nunez (discus, 108-1) and Chaz Payne (triple jump, 38-5 1/2).

North Murray’s lone first-place finish came from Reinaldo Marrero, who won the boys 110 hurdles in 17.5 seconds.

Team finishes for North Murray were not available, and Murray County’s results were not reported by The Daily Citizen’s deadline.