RINGGOLD, Ga. — Todd Middleton admits he's not the type to look too far ahead. So when asked following Tuesday's 6-2 Region 7-AAAA win over Heritage about where his Northwest Whitfield High School baseball team stands with just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, the veteran coach hedged his answer a bit.
"I'm never satisfied, but I'm happy where we are," said Middleton, whose team (18-4, 8-2) tied the Generals (15-5, 8-2) atop the region standings heading into Wednesday's doubleheader.
"By no means do I think we can walk right through it," Middleton added. "It's a nice start to the series, but who knows? We are not good enough to think we can walk out and make things happen. All we're looking at is game one (Wednesday) and go from there."
Of course, with junior lefty ace Cade Fisher on the mound, Middleton and the Bruins have gotten spoiled. The future Florida Gator improved to 7-0 with a complete-game two-hitter while striking out 12. Fisher did not allow an earned run and benefitted from three runs in the top of the first inning.
Matt Redmond was hit by a pitch leading off and, following a strikeout, Keaton McQuaig ripped an RBI triple. Aiden Hosford followed with a run-scoring double and Fisher later added an RBI single for the 3-0 lead.
"We came out in the first inning and got the barrel to the ball, scored some runs and got some cushion," Middleton said. "I knew three runs would be pretty good with Cade pitching. Cade would probably say he didn't have his best game, but it was pretty good. He did what he was supposed to do."
An error allowed the Generals to cut the lead to two in the bottom of the first, but the Bruins made it 5-1 in the third on a wild pitch and an error on a rundown. McQuaig, who was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, later added an RBI single in the fourth.
Heritage, after an error, used Caden Snyder's RBI single in the sixth to make it a 6-4 game but Fisher shut the door in the seventh for his seventh win in eight starts. He has now allowed one earned run in 54 innings (a 0.13 ERA).
The teams square off Wednesday at Northwest in a doubleheader (5:30 start) moved up from Friday in anticipation of bad weather. A sweep from either side could go a long way in earning the region's regular season title.
"We needed to get this first one," Middleton said. "Tomorrow is going to be the tale of the tape. We are fairly evenly matched from what I've seen, though I don't spend much time worrying about other teams."
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @youngsports22