March 21, 2014

Starting with a sweep

Dalton’s offense stays hot to win baseball finalé against Raiders

After winning seven of its first eight games, Southeast Whitfield High School’s baseball team will try to shake off a not-so-great first week of Sub-region 7B-4A play.

By comparison, Dalton should feel pretty good.

The Catamounts scored seven runs over the first two innings and six more across the fifth and sixth to win 13-6 Friday at Southeast and sweep the week’s sub-region series.

After Southeast (7-5, 0-3 Sub-region 7B-4A) scored three runs in the fourth to cut Dalton’s lead to 7-5, the Cats (8-3, 3-0) began to pull away. Jake Roberts led off the fifth with a single and stole second and third before Shaw Richardson’s single brought him home. Charlie Martin added an RBI single later in the inning.

Dalton kept hitting in the sixth as Jase Chastain’s single moved courtesy runner Kyric McGowin — he was in for catcher Grant Sane — to third. Chastain stole second and McGowin scored on the throw for a 10-5 lead. Roberts followed with a two-run home run to right field, and Maddux Houghton’s single brought home Sam Stepp for a 13-5 lead.

“We played well defensively,” Dalton coach Shane Ramsey said, “and we played well offensively. And we’re still not hitting on all cylinders. Our pitching staff came through.”

Houghton led off the game with a triple to right field and Kaleb Hill drove him in with a single. Roberts later walked with the bases loaded to make it 2-0.

Southeast responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Dalton intentionally walked standout senior Rhett Harper to load the bases with two outs, and Noah Ramsey’s single brought home Daniel Chavarria and Abram Stanley.

Dalton scored five more runs in the second, with Cole Shelton’s two-run single giving the Cats the lead for good. Chastain walked with the bases loaded and Shelton later scored on a wild pitch for a 6-2 lead. McGowin scored on Roberts’ grounder for a 7-2 edge.

Ramsey started on the mound for Southeast, allowing seven earned runs on four hits and seven walks before being relieved in the second by Blake Foster.

Foster worked the next 4 1/3 innings, allowing six runs on seven hits and one walk. Chavarria pitched the final 1 2/3 innings, allowing a hit and two walks.

“We’ve swung the bats better the last two games,” Southeast coach Brad Lofton said. “We didn’t make any errors. Walks are killer. We need to cut down on the walks.”

The Raiders started chipping away at their 7-2 hole when Ty Pendley’s sacrifice fly in the second brought home Hunter Young. Chase Jenkins’ sacrifice fly brought home Foster in the third and Harper’s bases-loaded infield single scored Pendley in the fourth.

That at-bat was the only time Dalton let Harper swing as the Cats intentionally walked him three times, each with runners in scoring position. They issued two intentional walks to Foster — in the fourth (two at-bats before Harper’s single) and in the seventh — who went 2-for-2.

“We went into this knowing we wouldn’t let Harper or Foster beat us,” Ramsey said, noting the intentional walk strategy was used in key situations the entire series. “Our pitchers did a great job. We wanted to focus on the other guys and not let them beat us.”

Pendley drove in the game’s last run in the sixth with a bases-loaded groundout to bring home Jenkins.

Southeast once had a six-game winning streak but now will regroup for next week’s three-game series with sub-region foe LaFayette. Dalton enters a three-game series with Ridgeland, which was swept by Northwest Whitfield this week.

“We have a chance to get right back in it with a couple of region wins,” Lofton said.

Houghton finished 2-for-5 with two runs scored, while Roberts drove in four runs and scored twice.

Richardson started and pitched three innings, allowing four runs off three hits and five walks. Dakota Tankersley allowed one run off three hits and a walk in an inning of relief, Shelton pitched scoreless fifth and sixth innings, Vinny Vega allowed one earned run without recording an out and Martin recorded the final three outs.

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