RINGGOLD, Ga. - Bill Womack Field is a hitter-friendly park on any day, but when the wind is blowing straight out, as it did during Friday's GHSA Class AAA first-round playoff series, it can be downright dangerous for pitchers.
As it turned out, though, in the process of host Ringgold sweeping Jackson County, 11-1 and 5-2, only two round-trippers were hit -- both by the same player. Chase Burke's first-inning grand slam propelled the Tigers to the runaway first-game win, and his solo shot in game two provided late insurance for Ringgold, which will travel to Blessed Trinity for next week's second round.
"At Ringgold you've got to hit some home runs with the wind blowing out, and our pitchers know what they have to do in that situation as well," winning coach Brent Tucker saidd. "Chase got us going early and we stayed hot in the first game. In the second game we had to work a little harder."
Ringgold (19-9) hit four doubles to add to Burke's granny, including Brandon Dycus' three-run double in the second inning as the Tigers built a 10-0 lead. Senior ace Austin Parrish cruised from there, allowing just four hits and striking out six in the five-inning win.
Game two was tied at 2 in the fifth when Parrish broke the tie by scoring on a wild pitch. He drove home the fourth run with a sixth-inning sacrifice fly before Burke ended the scoring just as he began it with a homer in the seventh.
"When the wind's blowing out we tend to get a little excited here because we already have a short porch," Burke said. "The grand slam put us ahead, and after that we just didn't stop. This team has the potential to do a lot of great things. We've got a tough matchup next week, but we have all the talent in the world to keep going."
Lefty Logan Baldwin battled through two tough innings in the fourth and fifth, including two wild pitches in Jackson County's two-run fifth, before settling down and sitting down the final six Panthers hitters. He allowed four hits, fanned five and, like Parrish, earned his coach's praise by letting the stellar defense behind him work.
"We did a great job all day of letting the defense make plays," Tucker said. "There were several plays -- four I can think of in the outfield alone -- that we made today that made a difference."
In other scores involving northwest Georgia teams:
Northwest Whitfield (22-5) split its Class AAAA series with Grady, losing 3-1 before winning 11-8. The Bruins will play the deciding game three today at 5 in Tunnel Hill. Heritage ended its season 16-12 by losing twice at Redan, 8-4 and 12-2. Sonoraville (15-11) lost its first game to Franklin County in Class AAA, 10-0, and was tied at 5 in the seventh inning at deadline.
Calhoun (18-9) ended its season with 11-0 and 3-1 Class AA losses at Lovett. The Yellow Jackets were leading game two 1-0 before Shawn Regan's three-run homer for the Lions in the seventh inning.
In Class A, Gordon Lee routed Irwin County 12-1 and 17-0, scoring 14 runs in the fourth inning. The 25-2 Trojans will await the winner of the Turner County/Baconton Charter series, which has a deciding game scheduled today. Gordon Lee would host round two if Turner County wins.
Trion (16-10) also swept on the Class A public-school side, winning 6-2 and 2-1 at Hawkinsville behind strong pitching from Donald Morgan and Ethan Young.