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Gilmer upsets Cartersville

Bobcat senior Mayson Carver took the mound last Thursday and earned a complete game victory against the Cartersville Purple Hurricanes, Region 7-4A’s top team. He struck out six batters and walked three in Gilmer’s 3-1 win. (Photo by Kevin Hensley)
Carver, Bobcats cut down Canes

Gilmer’s 3-1 victory sends Cartersville home with first region loss of season

by Kevin Hensley and Robbie BIlls

It may go down as one of the biggest wins of the Gilmer High School baseball program.

Behind a complete game pitching performance by senior Mayson Carver, the Bobcats downed region foe Cartersville 3-1 at home last Thursday. The following day, GHS beat the Southeast Whitfield Raiders 2-1 for its first region road win of the season.

“He (Carver) asked two players if he could pitch today. He had pitched  (some) yesterday,” GHS coach James Plouffe pointed out following the win over Cartersville. “I asked coach (Andy) Marinelli, ‘What do you think?’ He said, ‘Let’s go with it.’ We want somebody out there that wants to face Cartersville. That’s a tough task. He had mentioned it maybe three times walking in today, and three times yesterday. So, he wanted them. That’s what you call ‘bulldogging.’ That’s a big punch in the arm for us.”

While toeing the rubber, Carver struck out six Hurricanes, issued three walks and gave up seven hits en route to the win.

The first at-bat of the game looked to send Gilmer down an all-too-familiar path, as the Hurricanes smacked a double into the outfield to begin the afternoon. After a fly out, a walk and a single loaded the bases for Cartersville. However, Carver settled in to record a strikeout and a flyout to end the early threat.

Gilmer manufactured its first run in the bottom of the second. After Noah Wilson drew a leadoff walk, he advanced to second on sacrifice bunt by Noah Ralston and scored on a single by Dalton Stephens.

With two outs in the bottom of the third, the Bobcats placed their final two runs of the game on the board. Ralston drew a bases loaded walk before an errant pickoff attempt gave Chad Watkins the chance to scurry home and give GHS a 3-0 advantage.

The Hurricanes’ lone run of the game came in the top of the seventh after a walk and triple. Carver issued another walk before a line drive shot hit the infield umpire with runners on second and third. With the bases loaded, Carver induced a groundout to cut the Hurricanes’ rally short.

Plouffe praised his team when asked where the victory ranks in his coaching career.

“This is the biggest win for me at Gilmer,” Plouffe said. “I’ve been with these guys for four years and they’ve never quit on me. If anybody, any team deserves a big win, we do. I give props to all these guys. They came in early today and they took extra batting practice yesterday. They wanted to show each other they weren’t going to give up. But for me personally, I’m just very happy for these guys.”

As the season winds down, Plouffe also commented on the campaign as a whole and what the triumph over Cartersville means for the Bobcats going forward.

“Although some of our scores don’t actually show it, we’ve hung tough with most teams,” Plouffe said. “They can throw all the excuses they want down the drain now, because they are a quality team. I think people can expect more from them.”

Playoff hopes alive

Timely hits and clutch defensive play continued against Southeast. Gilmer edged the Raiders 4-3 in the hit department and took the game by one run as well.

Stephens started on the mound for Gilmer and earned the win. He  allowed one earned run on a pair of hits in the fourth. He struck out and walked two hitters as well.

Chadwick pitched the fifth and sixth innings, and GHS had to overcome defensive miscues. Following consecutive errors to begin the fifth, a fly out and two ground outs ended the inning.

“I think they’re refocusing,” Plouffe said of the Bobcats’ ability to put mistakes behind them. “They’ve always wanted it, but they know how they didn’t get it, and they don’t want to have a repeat. We’re calling time outs a little bit more to try and slow the game down when that stuff happens.”

In the sixth, a single and hit batter put two Raiders on base to start the inning. The next batter hit a grounder to Ralston, who stepped on second base before completing the double play with a  throw to first. Chadwick got out of the inning following a fly out to right field.

Offensively, GHS’ first run came in the third inning. Dylan Hatcher hit a two-out single and eventually made his way home following back-to-back Southeast errors. In the fifth, Garret Rigdon drew a walk before singles by Hatcher and Chadwick to load the bases. Watkins reached on a fielder’s choice for GHS’ second and final run of the game.

Rigdon took the mound in the seventh and recorded two strikeouts to earn the save. The Bobcats’ turnaround keeps their state playoff hopes alive.

“It normally takes seven wins (to finish in the top four and advance to the playoffs), which means we’ll need to beat the ones we’re supposed to and beat a few people that beat us the second time around, but we get them (Heritage, Pickens and Ridgeland) at home. Most of our losses have been on the road. We play a lot better at home. We beat Cartersville, Sonoraville and Union (at home) and they’re all playoff teams.”

GHS began last week at Ridgeland and lost to the Panthers, 9-3.

“We played them tight, but had our one bad inning again,” Plouffe said of the loss. “It was just one of those games. We might come out and beat that team 2-out-of-3 times, but that wasn’t the day. We’re just not the greatest road team.”

“It’s going to be exciting and I think the kids are feeling it, too.” Plouffe said of their final stretch of games. “They’re (the players) eager to come out. Most are coming out early. There’s no excuses. They’re picking each other up and getting on each other when they need to.”  

The Cats are 5-5 in region play and sixth in the standings. They will host Heritage and Pickens for back-to-back region home games Thursday and Friday. Both contests are set to begin at 5:30 p.m.
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