March 25, 2014

Bruins sort it out

NW Whit baseball wins on late miscue by Generals

TUNNEL HILL — Instead of letting a few miscues multiply into something worse, Northwest Whitfield High School’s baseball team settled down Tuesday and stayed in the game.

In the end, Heritage-Catoosa’s defensive mistakes decided the outcome.

With the score tied at 3 in the bottom of the seventh inning at Richard S. Chumley Field, Heritage catcher Dylan Bice threw to third base trying to pick off Andy Whisenant.

Third baseman Seth Hickman wasn’t looking and the ball sailed into left field as Whisenant jogged across home plate for a 4-3 win in the first of three games in three days between the two Sub-region 7B-4A teams.

Whisenant led off the final trip to the plate for Northwest (8-3, 4-0) by reaching on an error. He moved to third on Diego Peralta’s double down the left-field line, setting up a second-and-third situation with one out for Edwin Hernandez. The cleanup hitter ending up not needing to put the ball in play for the Bruins to win.

“I didn’t think (Whisenant) was very far off the bag,” Northwest coach Todd Middleton said. “The kid threw and Andy turned and went.”

Northwest was originally scheduled to host Heritage (7-5, 3-1) again on Friday, but that game was moved to 5:30 p.m. today in anticipation of inclement weather on Friday. The Generals will host the Bruins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

“The first one is big,” Middleton said of starting the three-game set with a win, “but we’re not looking ahead. We’re just looking at it game by game.”

Northwest starter Logan Hilton struck out seven while allowing just one hit through the first four innings. The fifth inning, though, was much different.

Bice’s single started the inning, and left fielder Brett Badacour followed with a sacrifice bunt. Rather than picking the ball up, Northwest catcher Caleb Shiflett waited for it to roll foul — but it never did and Badacour reached safely with no one out.

Tyler Meroney followed with a bunt to move the runner, but Northwest didn’t cover first in time for the throw. The ball rolled to the fence and allowed Bice to score. Second baseman Noah Hill’s single two batters later put Heritage ahead 3-2.

Later in the inning, with Heritage runners at second and third with two outs, Hilton forced a groundout from Logan Haga. He also escaped a first-and-third, two-out jam in the sixth inning by forcing a groundout from Damian Goins.

Whisenant, who played center field the first six innings, pitched a scoreless seventh and earned the win. Hilton allowed two earned runs on five hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts in a six-inning effort.

“You just have to focus and forget that it all happened,” Hilton said. “You just have to redo. Sometimes I look up at the trees and that helps me forget about what happened and get a new mindset.”

Heritage starter Blake Hamilton allowed four runs (one earned) on six hits and two walks with five strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.

Northwest’s success at the plate gave Hilton an early edge. Will Brock scored in the first on Shiflett’s bases-loaded single, and Omar Hernandez scored in the second inning on Whisenant’s single for a 2-0 lead.

Hernandez — who went 2-for-2 as the Bruins’ lone batter with multiple hits — came through again in the sixth, tying the game with a two-out single that scored Seth Pierce from second base.

“Omar did a great job for us today,” Middleton said.

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