TUNNEL HILL, Ga. — Two years ago, several current members of the Northwest Whitfield baseball team endured a 20-loss season. Now all grown up, the Bruins are exacting revenge this year.
Their latest victim came Tuesday in a 12-2 five-inning beating of rival Dalton in a matchup of previously unbeaten teams in Region 7B-AAAA. Northwest (15-3, 10-0) pounded out 13 hits, six of them for extra bases, in the opener of the three-game showdown series.
Winning coach Todd Middleton stopped short of calling it a statement game.
"It's the first game of the series and the next one is tomorrow," Middleton said, downplaying the whipping. "It's definitely a good way to start it, and tomorrow we start over. We just have to keep doing what we're doing. We got the barrel on the ball today and found some gaps, and Seth [Pierce] was solid again on the mound."
Pierce, the sophomore left-handed ace, allowed just two hits -- both to Jake Roberts -- and struck out six in improving to 5-1. Wade Terrell and Brady Middleton led the hitting assault with a combined seven hits and five RBIs.
Northwest held a 5-0 lead until Roberts hit a two-run homer for Dalton (10-7, 9-1) in the fourth. The Bruins, suddenly threatened, answered with six runs in the bottom half to put the game on ice. Brady Middleton led off the big inning with a home run, and Terrell added two runs with a double and Kyle Brock plated another with a single.
"Around the fourth or fifth inning is where we have to score runs and take care of business," Brady Middleton said. "This puts us ahead in the region and it's a good start to the week, but we need to keep it going. Confidence is everything in these series -- get game one and build on it."
The teams will play game two today at 5:30 after moving it up from Thursday because of forecast rain. The final game is scheduled for Friday, and should Northwest complete the sweep the Bruins would sew up the regular-season title in subregion B and the automatic state playoff berth that goes with it.
Edwin Hernandez added two hits and drove in three runs while Brandon Smith was 2-for-3 with two runs scored for the Bruins.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...