Logan Hood embraced the challenge.
In the opening game of the LaGrange-Toyota Invitational on Thursday, Hood’s LaGrange Grangers were matched up against Cartersville, which won a state championship a year ago.
Hood was given the ball by head coach Todd Herrington, and the senior pitcher was brilliant.
Hood was staked to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, and that was all the support he needed.
Hood gave up just five hits en route to the complete-game shutout, and the Grangers opened their tournament stay with a 4-0 victory.
It was a big-time performance against a Cartersville program that is one of the best in the state and has won six state titles since 2001.
“I was really excited. I felt like we could shock some people, and we did,” Hood said. “I want to thank God first of all. Without him, none of this would happen.”
The Purple Hurricanes went down in order in the top of the first, and the Grangers scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning.
After that, Hood threw strikes, and let his defense do its job.
“I struggled a little bit with some things early, but I settled down in the end,” Hood said.
Jake Howard staked the Grangers to the 2-0 lead with a two-run single in the bottom of the first inning.
The score didn’t change until the bottom of the sixth inning when LaGrange pushed two more runs across.
Caleb Buchanan had an RBI single, and John Patterson knocked in another run with a groundout.
Cartersville got a two-out single in the top of the seventh, but Hood got a groundout to end the game.
“I wasn’t counting on him going seven, but his pitch count was so low,” Herrington said. “He was throwing strikes, he was getting those guys to reach for things. Give him credit for just filling up the strike zone, and give our defense credit for making plays.”
It was a terrific start to the tournament for the Grangers, who’ll play Spanish Fort Toro (Ala.) at 8 p.m. today.
The Grangers complete pool play on Saturday against North Florida Christian, and they’ll participate in a place game Saturday evening.
“I don’t know if they really realize it or not, but we beat one of the top programs in the state of Georgia,” Herrington said. “They’re up there with Columbus. They’re that caliber. I was really proud of them. It’s a great win for our program, a great win for these guys.”
LaGrange 4, Cartersville 0
3 p.m. - North Florida Christian vs. Cartersville
5:30 p.m. - Spanish Fort vs. North Florida Christian
8 p.m. - LaGrange vs. Spanish Fort
3 p.m. - Bartram vs. Crisp County
5:30 p.m. - South Gwinnett vs. West Orange
8 p.m. - Crisp County vs. South Gwinnett
10 a.m. - Bartram vs. West Orange
10 a.m. - LaGrange vs. North Florida Christian
12:30 p.m. - Cartersville vs. Spanish Fort
5 p.m. - Seventh-place game
7:30 p.m. - Third-place game
10 a.m. - South Gwinnett vs. Bartram
12:30 p.m. - Crisp County vs. West Orange
5 p.m. - Fifth-place game
7:30 p.m. - Championship game