RINGGOLD, Ga. — The start couldn't have been much worse for the Heritage Generals on Wednesday in their GHSA Class AAAA baseball playoff series against Stephenson.
The ending — or endings in this case — were just fine for the Region 7-AAAA runners-up.
The visitors scored six runs in the top of the first inning of game one, but the Generals (24-7) rallied for three in the bottom half and added seven more in the third to take control in what turned into a 15-9 win. Heritage fell behind 1-0 in game two but took advantage of a pair of Stephenson errors and some timely hits to win 10-3 and sweep the best-of-three series to advance to the second round.
"When you get in the playoffs, it's going to boil down to which teams can weather the bad things that occur," Heritage coach Eric Beagles said. "I thought we did that pretty well. They did what we had heard about them, that they could swing it, but fortunately they didn't get more than they did. It says a lot about the guys in how they settled down and came back."
Heritage starter Zach Barrett regrouped after the tough first inning in game one to get the pitching win, allowing only one more run. Meanwhile, Cannon Stafford's double started the comeback in the bottom of the inning. He also added an RBI on fielder's choice in the second before the Generals used RBI doubles from Gage Shaver, C.J. Robertson and Caden Snyder in the third.
Cade Kiniry, after allowing a run in the opening inning of game two, pitched four scoreless innings, allowing three total hits and striking out six batters to get the win. Heritage scored three runs in the third on RBI hits from Brady Chandler and Kiniry, an error and a passed ball. Shaver, Stafford, Skeen and Kiniry added RBIs to expand the lead.
Heritage will travel to Hampton for next week's second round.
Elsewhere in the GHSA baseball playoffs:
Northwest Whitfield 3-3, Druid Hills 0-6: At Druid Hills in Class AAAA, Northwest junior ace Cade Fisher improved to 10-0 this season with a one-hitter — his fourth one-hitter and sixth shutout — in which he struck out 16 and did not walk a batter. Aiden Hosford drove in the game's first run with a single in the first inning, with Fischer Lloyd and Jayden Santiago each adding RBI singles in the fifth for the Bruins (21-11).
Druid Hills (18-8) earned the split despite being outhit nine to four in the second game as Cullen Riel had two RBIs and Colin Ross scattered nine hits and struck out seven to get the pitching win. Keaton McQuaig was 3-for-4 and Fisher 2-for-4 for the Bruins, who left eight runners on base. Game three is at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Calhoun 5-2, Villa Rica 3-0: At Villa Rica in Class AAAAA, the Yellow Jackets (21-7) used dominant pitching from Hagan Banks and Bryse Ingle to sweep. Villa Rica scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning in game one but did not score again. Banks went the distance, allowing six hits and striking out 11. Jacob Tolson hit a two-run homer in the fifth to tie the game before Braden Saunders' two-run double in the sixth put Calhoun ahead.
Ingle pitched a two-hitter in game two, striking out 12. Both Calhoun runs came in the second inning on a pair of errors on ground balls with the bases loaded. The Wildcats had the tying run on base with one out in the seventh before Ingle struck out the final two batters to send the Jackets to the second round, where they will travel to Greenbrier.
Baylor 3, McCallie 2: Danny Corona and the Baylor defense were lights out behind Luke Courdin, Gaston Carmichael and Jonathan Larrea, who combined to hold the Blue Tornado to three hits. Larrea picked off a runner and struck out three batters in two perfect innings for the save. The Red Raiders tied the game at 1 in the third when Cooper Kinney hit a line-drive single to right that was soon followed by a two-run error. Baylor's John Emendorfer had two hits in the win, and Gray Glover drove in both of McCallie's runs.
Hixson 6, Red Bank 2: Brad Dossett hit a three-run homer over the left-field fence in the top of the fifth, one of his three hits for the Wildcats (19-7, 13-1 District 6-AA). Nic Castro picked up the win after pitching four scoreless innings, and Corey Satterfield drove in two runs for Hixson. Red Bank's Jackson Keller went 3-for-3, Jake Brune had two hits and Aiden Porter drove in both runs for the Lions.
Soddy-Daisy 6, Walker Valley 5: Noah Ferguson doubled and drove in three runs to help the Trojans build a 6-0 lead through the first three innings. The Mustangs' comeback attempt fell short despite strong days at the plate from Aiden Gibson (3-for-4, two RBIs), Logan Wallace (2-for-3, RBI) and Nate Curtis (2-for-3). Hunter Ward picked up a two-inning save as he struck out four.
Heritage 3, Madison County 0: Molly Cason and Mady Rae Terry scored for the Lady Generals as they advanced to the quarterfinals in Class AAAA.
In other AAAA second-round games involving area teams, Northwest Whitfield beat Jefferson 2-0 and Southeast Whitfield lost 10-0 at North Oconee.
In AAAAAA's second round, Dalton lost 8-0 to Cambridge.
Sequatchie County 10, White County 9: The Lady Indians scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a one-run lead that was preserved by winning pitcher Cali Green. She also had three hits and a trio of RBIs, and Addy and Ella Edgmon combined for five stolen bases and four runs. Megan Hall also drove in three runs for Sequatchie County, and Gracie Turner had two hits.
Compiled by Lindsey Young and Patrick MacCoon. Contact Young at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @youngsports22. Contact MacCoon at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.