LaGrange gets big win over Cartersville
By Kevin Eckleberry
LAGRANGE – LaGrange had Ben Anderson on the mound, and that was bad news for the Cartersville Purple Hurricanes.
Anderson, a senior right-hander, delivered a lock-down pitching performance on Thursday to lead LaGrange to a key 2-1 victory in a Region 5-AAAA game.
The victory moved the Grangers (11-7 overall) into a first-place tie in the region with a 3-1 record.
Cartersville had its share of base runners against Anderson, but its only run came in the fifth inning.
Anderson gave up five hits and walked five batters, but he had 11 strikeouts, and the defense made some outstanding plays behind him.
The game ended with one of those defensive gems.
With a man on first in the top of the seventh inning, Anderson got a ground ball that was fielded by second baseman Trevor John Norris.
Norris flipped the ball to shortstop Willis Kemp, who threw a strike to first baseman Hunter Plant for the game-ending double play.
“Ben was outstanding, and we did a good job of throwing and catching behind him,” LaGrange head coach David Smart said. “We turned some big double plays. It was a really good, solid high-school baseball game.”
The biggest of those double plays, clearly, was the last one.
With a man on first, a Cartersville batter had a 3-1 count, but Anderson didn’t give in.
“Usually a 3-1 count, a hitter like that is trying to hit it hard, hit it far,” Anderson said. “So usually I’ll go off-speed, or throw a fastball a little softer. I still try to locate it.”
When Norris saw the ball on the ground heading in his direction, he wasn’t immediately thinking double play.
“I was just making sure of one,” Norris said. “I caught it clean, so I knew we had a shot. Willis made a heck of a play at second.”
Cartersville’s Mason Barnett was terrific as well.
After scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning, the Grangers were held scoreless the rest of the way by Barnett.
Thanks to Anderson, though, those two runs were enough.
Anderson also got the job done at the plate with two hits and a run scored, and Willis Kemp had an RBI double.
David Sweat had a base hit in the first inning and he scored the Grangers’ second run, and Champ Willis also had a hit.
In the bottom of the first, Anderson and Sweat led off with base hits, and Anderson later scored on a wild pitch to give the Grangers the lead.
With two outs, Kemp’s RBI single brought in Sweat, and LaGrange was up 2-0.
It was still a 2-0 game when Cartersville loaded the bases with one out in the third inning, but Anderson got a popout and a groundout to end the threat.
In the fourth inning, Cartersville had two men on with two outs when Anderson got a strikeout to keep the shutout intact.
The Purple Hurricanes threatened again in the fifth.
A walk and a hit put two men on with no outs, but Anderson picked a runner off a second base for the first out.
Noah Daniel had an RBI single with two outs, but an Anderson strikeout ended the inning and LaGrange still had a one-run lead.
In the seventh inning, Preston Welchel reached on a one-out walk, and Cartersville had the tying run on base, but the double play ended it.
LaGrange will look to keep the wins coming today when it visits a Sandy Creek team enjoying a strong season.
“We’ll have to be ready to go tomorrow,” Smart said. “Sandy Creek’s got a really good club. We’ll have our hands full on the road.”
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