RINGGOLD, Ga. -- Ringgold's baseball Tigers swept their first two playoff series and have not faced an elimination game all season -- until today.
The Tigers and LaGrange will play the third and final game of their Class AAA quarterfinals today at 1 p.m. after the Tigers took game one 8-2 but fell 1-0 in the nightcap Tuesday.
"All of us seniors, we've had our backs against the wall before, especially our sophomore year," senior outfielder Read Walden said. "We just haven't been there this year."
The winner will face Gainesville next week. The season will be over for either the Tigers (26-5) or the Grangers (23-10) after today.
"Elimination games are their own creatures," Ringgold coach Brent Tucker said. "There will be nerves and things. We've got to get in a flow and just go play."
The Tigers found their flow immediately in the first game.
Slade Dale crushed Drew Moody's third pitch of the day over the center-field fence. Corey Kafka followed with a double off it. Walden, the third batter, left a white mark on the blue scoreboard behind the right-field fence. Alan Mochabee followed with a towering homer down the left-field line.
Ringgold led 4-0 before making an out. Eight of the nine Tigers either scored or drove in at least one run in the first game.
Kafka struck out eight, including the final three in the final inning. He surrendered seven hits, plunked three and walked two.
But LaGrange senior Jacob Boccucci had a different experience than most pitchers this season. He dominated the Tigers. Boccucci, who will play at Lee University, limited the Tigers to one hit. He struck out nine and walked two.
"It's probably the best game I've ever pitched," Boccucci said. "I could throw my curveball in any count and that kept them off balance."
Only one Tiger touched third base and that was in the first inning, which ended on a baserunning blunder at third.
"We thought we'd have more chances," Tucker said. "In game one, we did our thing and got after it."
Ringgold pitcher Adam Weldon struck out 10 in the 1-0 loss and allowed the run on a two-out single through the left side.
Andy Mochabee nearly tied the game in the seventh inning when he blasted a pitch to the right-field wall, but into the glove of Caleb Williams.
"I've got a group of seniors who have been in elimination games before," Tucker said. "We know what they're about."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...