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LaGrange falls in region opener

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

It wasn’t the start the LaGrange Grangers were hoping for, but there’s a long way to go.

LaGrange opened its Region 5-AAAA schedule with an 11-0 home loss to Cartersville on Monday.

It was the first of 12 region games for LaGrange, and the first two are against a Cartersville team that’s ranked second in Class AAAA according to Georgia Dugout Preview.

It was scoreless when the Purple Hurricanes pushed two runs across in the top of the fourth inning.

Cartersville added two more runs in the fifth inning, and it busted the game open with six runs in the top of the sixth.

When LaGrange didn’t score in the bottom of the sixth, the game ended because of the run rule.

The two teams will meet again on Wednesday in Cartersville, and LaGrange hosts Chapel Hill on Friday.

“At moments when you need something to happen, make something happen positive, we’re not doing it,” said LaGrange head coach Donnie Branch, whose team fell to 5-12 overall.

Jake Cardwell was the tough-luck loser.

After holding Cartersville scoreless through three innings, Cardwell was unable to overcome a defensive miscue in the fourth inning.

With a man on first and no outs, it looked like the Grangers were going to turn a double play.

With the runner taking off on a hit-and-run, Jordan Wilkie hit a flyball that almost certainly would have resulted in a double play if the ball had been caught.

The ball was misplayed, though, so instead of having no one on and two outs, Cartersville had runners on first and second with one out.

After walking a batter to load the bases, Cardwell got a popout for the second out, and he was on the verge of getting out of the inning.

Next up was Ian Inaba, and he legged out an infield hit to give Cartersville the lead, and JP Martin was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to drive in another run.

“Jake Cardwell is pitching great, and we’re making plays,” Branch said. “And then we miss a fly ball, and it was going to be a double play. They’re running on the play. We end up getting nobody out, and two runs later the whole game has changed.”

Branch added that “they’re really good, and they made plays, and we didn’t make plays. When we had a chance to make a play to get out of an inning, to help our pitcher, we don’t make it.”

Cardwell threw five innings, and he gave up seven hits and four runs, although only two of the runs were earned.

“Jake did a great job against a really good team,” Branch said.

LaGrange had a great chance to seize the lead in the bottom of the third.

Brant Williams led off the inning with a base hit, and after a Will Alford fielder’s choice, Mason Green reached on a bunt single.

After Alford and Green moved up on an error, the Grangers had men on second and third and one out.

Trent Bailey hit the ball hard, but it went right to the pitcher, who threw to first for an out.

Cohen Wilbanks then got a strikeout to end the threat, and the game remained scoreless.

LaGrange had two base runners again in the fifth inning when Alford singled and Bailey walked.

The Grangers came up empty, though, with Wilbanks once again getting a strikeout to escape a jam with no runs scoring and keep his team on top 4-0.

The Grangers finished with six hits, one apiece by Alford, Green, Bailey, Cole Sanders, Charles Crawford and Williams.

Preston Welchel had three hits and an RBI for Cartersville, and Inaba had two hits and three RBIs.