April 18, 2014

Prep roundup: Upset puts N. Murray in baseball playoffs

Over the past few seasons, a late-season game with Sonoraville has been the deciding factor in whether the North Murray High School baseball team advanced to the state playoffs.

This year, the Mountaineers avoided the burn from the Phoenix and will make their first trip to the state playoffs in the program’s history.

Freshman pitcher Brady Harper and senior reliever Aaron Granger scattered seven hits and held Sonoraville scoreless over the final four innings to take a 9-4 win in Chatsworth on Friday night. Sonoraville entered the game tied atop the Region 5-3A standings with Cartersville and Ringgold

The win, combined with Adairsville’s loss on Thursday night to Ringgold, assures the Mountaineers (11-14 overall, 7-6 Region 5-3A) of finishing no worse than in a tie for fourth with Adairsville (5-7 in Region 5-3A). North Murray and Adairsville split during the regular season, but the Mountaineers own the tiebreaker of runs scored between the teams over the Tigers.

North Murray finishes the regular season Tuesday at Cartersville, while Adairsville will play Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe on Tuesday and ends the season at Coahulla Creek. North Murray will advance to the Class 3A state playoffs and will have to travel to face the Region 8-3A champion. Buford is currently atop the Region 8 standings.

But Friday’s win over the Phoenix was especially sweet for the Mountaineers, who lost 7-4 to Sonoraville last season in the final game of the regular season and fell 4-2 on the road earlier this year. The loss last year denied North Murray of a playoff spot.

“We are in, and it is big for us,” first-year North Murray head coach John Redmond said. “We have played Sonoraville for the last game the last couple of years, and it just hasn’t gone our way. After the game, it was one of those joyous moments. Making it is great and great for the program, but we would like to keep extending it.”

The Mountaineers were down 4-1 going into the bottom of the third inning, but they kept chipping away. North Murray scored a run to cut it to 4-2 in the third, added another in the fourth and then took the lead with four runs in the bottom of the fifth. The Mountaineers added two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth.

Cole Vaughn was 2-for-3 to lead the team at the plate with a pair of RBIs. Alex Viars and Brody Frazier each had a pair of RBIs as well.

That was enough for the Mountaineers’ pitching. Harper went 5 2/3 innings, giving up six hits, four runs (two earned), three walks and three strikeouts. Granger then came in and gave up a hit while striking out two to get the save.

Northwest Whitfield 8, LaFayette 3: Northwest Whitfield closed out its sub-region schedule with the same record as last year, finishing 14-1 in Sub-region 7B-4A.

Now, the Bruins (18-4) hope that they can win another region title as well.

Diego Peralta had a double and both he and Will Brock were 3-for-5 to lead Northwest to the win on the road. Edwin Hernandez and Omar Hernandez were both 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, while Seth Pierce was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs. Walker Maret also had a pair of RBIs for the Bruins.

Phillip Hammonds took the win on the mound, pitching four innings, giving up four hits as only one of his two runs allowed was earned. Pierce pitched the final three innings, striking our six.

Now, the Bruins will have to wait to see who they will face in the Region 7-4A championship series. The best-of-three series will begin on Wednesday with a doubleheader and a third game, if necessary, to be played on Thursday. Northwest will play either River Ridge or Cedartown. Either way, the Bruins will be on the road for the series.

• Results from Christian Heritage’s game against Mount Zion-Carrollton and Southeast Whitfield’s doubleheader with Ridgeland were not reported by The Daily Citizen’s deadline.

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