By: Logan Maddox (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Some stories just write themselves.
Down 12-3, the Cedartown Middle School baseball team faced their largest deficit of the season. After all, it was only the second time all season they were behind on the scoreboard.
With his son’s team down nine runs in the Area Championship Game, Carson Tanner said it best: “It will take a miracle for them to come back from this.”
Ladies and gentlemen, miracle occurred at the Dawg Pound last night. Before we get to that, we must cover the whole story.
The Rockmart Middle School Yellow Jackets baseball team were happy to even be in the title game. They shocked Armuchee in the semifinals to clinch their spot and make it a Polk County Championship. Cedartown, on the other hand, handled every opponent with ease this year. After a perfect regular season, they run-ruled Darlington to move to the title game.
No matter how the rest of the season went, the Jackets came ready to play last night. Rockmart found no problem in hitting off Cedartown’s Reece Tanner. They brought home five runs in the top of the first to control a 5-0 lead.
The Bulldogs attempted to stay with them. In the bottom of the first, Xavier Holiday, Eli Barrow, and Tanner scored to make it a 5-3 ballgame. The two-run deficit was extended to four-runs as Treylin Davis and Cohen Maulding came across in the second. After a scoreless bottom of the second, Rockmart blew the game open. After dropping a five-spot in the third frame, the Jackets corralled a 12-3 lead.
Well-timed hitting in the third allowed Cedartown to make it a closer game. Denver Nale, Cole Dingler, Holiday, and Barrow all recorded hits and scored in the inning. Through three innings, Rockmart still led 12-7.
The visitors threatened in the top of the fourth, but failed to score after a runner was stranded on third base. The home half of the fourth inning helped propel the game to “Instant Classic” status. With the bases loaded, Harlem Diamond sent a laser just out of the left fielder’s reach. It ended up being a bases-clearing double, but was far from being HD’s biggest hit of the day. Diamond was brought home on a RBI hit by Jay O’Neal, making it a one-run ballgame through four frames.
Cole Dingler came in as a reliever late in the game and pitched a gem. He held Rockmart hitless in the fifth to keep it a 12-11 game, allowing his offense to take the lead in the bottom half.
Britt Baxter entered as a pinch hitter in the fifth and crushed the second pitch he saw. Baxter stretched the hit into a lead-off triple. A RBI groundout by Reece Tanner tied the game for the first time. With the bases loaded again for Diamond, HD once again doubled. His hit scored Holiday and Barrow to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the matchup. After a three-up, three-down inning for closer Matthew Henslee, Cedartown Middle reigned victorious with their second-straight Area Championship.
Reece Tanner, Denver Nale, Xavier Holiday, and Jay O’Neal all pitched for the Bulldogs, but the winning pitcher was Cole Dingler. Matthew Henslee recorded the save for Cedartown. Harlem Diamond was a catalyst for the Cedartown comeback, as he drove in five runs in his final two at-bats. HD proved to be Mr. Clutch in the matchup, going 2-4 with two doubles, 5 RBI, and a run. Despite his struggles on the mound, Tanner had a solid day at the plate. The eighth-grader went 1-3 with a single, a walk, two runs scored and a stolen base. Holiday was 3-3 with two singles, a double, a walk, and scored four times. Eli Barrow reached each time and scored four runs in the win. Dingler was 1-4 with a double and a run, and Nale went 2-3 with a single, a double, a walk, and a run scored.
With the win, Cedartown won their second consecutive Area Championship. The 14-12 victory at the Dawg Pound was an unbelievable game. As always, the Rockmart-Cedartown game was crazy. Should we expect anything else from the Bulldogs and the Yellow Jackets?