RINGGOLD, Ga. — Of all the things to be pleased with following his team's playoff-clinching doubleheader sweep Thursday, Heritage High School baseball coach Eric Beagles was most proud of something that didn't happen on the field during the 4-3 and 5-1 wins over Cedartown.
Heritage (15-10) was one out from winning game one of the Region 7-AAAA playoff series when an error opened the door and the Bulldogs capitalized to tie the game at 3. But the Generals won anyway on Austin Morris' one-out, bases-loaded single.
They rode that momentum for four quick runs in game two and Dalton Belk's strong pitching to complete the sweep and send the Generals into the state playoffs for the third consecutive season.
"You just have to stay in the moment and go onto the next one," Beagles said of the night's defining moment. "It was good to see them answer that the way they did. You can't take anything for granted, and our guys didn't hang their heads. To have to win that first game in the bottom of the seventh like that was big for our guys."
Morris pitched all of game one, allowing one earned run. He was staked to a 2-0 lead on Lee Gibson's first-inning homer, and Heritage led 3-1 into the fifth before Cedartown rallied for single runs in the fifth and the seventh.
Following his game-winning hit, Morris stayed hot, doubling in a pair of runs in the bottom of the first in game two. Jared Porter made it 4-0 with a two-out, two-run single in the second and extended the lead to 5-0 with an RBI single in the fourth. The runs were more than enough for Belk, who did not allow more than one hit in an inning and benefited from two double plays.
Morris, like his coach, admitted not letting game one get away was the key to winning game two.
"I didn't see anybody drop their head, and we all felt we would go out and win it in the seventh," he said. "It feels great to get back in the playoffs for the third time. It's important for us seniors to keep playing because any day could be our last."
The Generals will be either the third or fourth seed from 7-AAAA, depending on the tiebreaking situation with River Ridge, which also swept its playoff series.
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com or at 423-757-6296.
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 ...