ATLANTA — Ringgold's run of postseason frustration continued Tuesday as the top-ranked Tigers were swept out of the GHSA Class AAA playoffs at Westminster, 5-3 and 3-2.
Ringgold (32-7) lost despite its pitchers allowing only eight combined hits and three earned runs. However, five errors, including four in game one, and an unusually quiet day from the top part of the batting order, helped do the Tigers in.
Westminster (24-11) will face private school rival Lovett in next week's championship round.
"Both teams struggled a bit at the plate, but we did what we had to do to get past a really good team," Westminster coach Chad Laney said. "My pitchers worked their tails off, and we did just enough at the plate and played very good defensively."
The Wildcats got complete-game pitching from Luke Janetta in game one and Jake Polhemus in game two, the pair allowing only nine hits to a Ringgold team that batted nearly .400 this season.
The Tigers jumped on top in game one with a two-run first-inning home run by cleanup hitter Daulton Schley. Ringgold pitcher Holden Tucker and what has been a leaky infield defense ran into trouble in the third.
Following a leadoff walk, Tucker threw the ball away at first on a sacrifice bunt attempt. Peter York singled home one run and Parks Harber doubled in two more. Two more infield errors were followed by Polhemus' two-run double to complete the nightmarish inning with the Wildcats leading 5-2.
Ringgold got one run back in the fifth on Nathan Camp's two-out RBI double, but Janetta sat down seven of the final eight to complete the win.
Game two was scoreless after four innings before another costly Ringgold mistake led to the first runs. Westminster's Junta Yasuda led off the fifth with a double, but Ringgold pitcher Camp got the next two batters on shallow fly balls. Both runners moved into scoring position when Camp was called for a balk that drew the ire of Ringgold coach Brent Tucker and a large contingent of blue-and-white-clad fans.
The balk hurt even worse when, after an intentional walk to Ryan Miller, Camp appeared to be out of the jam after inducing a weak grounder. However, the ball was thrown away at first, with two runs scoring. Ward Croft followed with an RBI single and what would be the game-winner.
As a hard rain started to fall the Tigers mounted their own threat in the bottom half with a pair of walks to start the inning followed by Wyatt Tennant's two-run double. Tennant got to third with one out, but Polhemus struck out Holden Tucker looking on what Ringgold coaches believed was a pitch outside and then retired Andre Tarver on a fly to left.
Polhemus retired the final six batters, including striking out the side in the seventh around a two-out walk. After getting Tennant on another called third strike, Ringgold coach Tucker had seen enough and was ejected after a heated exchange with the home plate umpire.
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296; follow on Twitter@youngsports22.