A misplayed ground-rule double turned into an inside-the-park grand slam, sparking Christian Heritage’s baseball team to its first Georgia High School Association victory.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth inning and the Lions down 2-0 to Northwest Whitfield, Jake Stokes sent a shot over the head of Bruins’ right fielder Seth Pierce. The ball one-hopped and seemed to disappear under the fence. Pierce raised his hands for the unplayable ball, but rather than wait on the umpire to declare the play dead, Pierce reached under the fence and grabbed the ball. His action made the play live, and Stokes, who had never stopped running anyway, had a most unusual four-bagger.
The Lions would go on to score two more runs in the inning and hang on for a 6-3 win against Northwest.
“That was a huge spot for something like that to happen,” Christian Heritage coach Noah Stokes said.
“Even if he doesn’t get the homer, it is at least a two-run double. That is what we count on him to do as our No. 3 hitter.”
The mental lapse was just one of the problems for the Bruins in their season opener.
“That play didn’t lose the game for us,” Northwest coach Todd Middleton said.
“We didn’t get the job done offensively in the game. We had plenty of chances and didn’t take advantage of a couple of them.”
In the third with a runner at second, Brady Middleton tried to score on Edwin Hernandez’s single to left, but he was cut down at the plate on Chase Tidwell’s throw. In the top of the fourth, the Bruins had bases loaded with one out, but Christian Heritage pitcher Brady Souther got back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.
“Brady (Souther) did a great job,” Stokes said. “He was able to limit the damage and kept us in the game. Behind him, we made some pretty good defensive plays at times as well.”
Northwest got on the board in the first with Brandon Smith’s leadoff double and a hit by Brady Middleton to put runners at the corners. Smith came home on Hernandez’s groundout to third, and Middleton would score on a wild pitch.
The 2-0 lead was more than enough for Pierce, who as a freshman was The Daily Citizen’s baseball player of the year last year. However, he was on a 40-pitch limit and was replaced after three innings of work. He allowed just two hits, striking out five.
Pierce also finished 2-for-2 at the plate, while the younger Middleton was 2-for-3. For Christian Heritage (1-1), Spencer Robbins and Tre Mason were both 2-for-3.
• Gilmer 14, North Murray 2: The Mountaineers fell to 0-2 overall as the Bobcats started scoring runs in bunches “from the second inning on,” North Murray coach Steve Granger said.
Cole Vaughn had both RBIs for the Mountaineers. Jared Campbell took the loss on the mound.
“This loss is on me,” Granger added. “I didn’t have the kids ready. We’ll go back to work and get ready.”
• Northwest JV 8, Christian Heritage 2: Three pitchers — Aaron Ball, Walker Maret and Caleb Shiflett — combined for the Bruins’ win. Ty Pendley stole three bases and scored three times for Northwest (1-0). Blakely Curtis and Logan Hilton each added an RBI double.
• Coahulla Creek JV 7, North Murray 3: Andrew Fisher pitched three innings and recorded the win for the Colts. Kip Davis went 2-for-2 with two RBIs for Coahulla Creek (1-0).
• Dalton JV boys 2, North Murray 0: Justin Macias and Kiko Rodriguez each scored once for the Catamounts (2-0). Antonio Martinez had an assist, Samuel Fraire recorded the shutout and Dalton won the shots statistic 14-3.