RINGGOLD, Ga. — In high school baseball, most catchers look to the dugout to pick up signs from their coaches. For Ringgold senior Sam Mills, there is a special exception.
Mills' mastery behind the plate working with senior ace Chase Ghormley on Wednesday helped propel the Tigers to the GHSA Class AAA quarterfinals as they finished an intense sweep of Sandy Creek by shutting out the Patriots. The 3-0 win followed a 6-5 victory in the opener of the doubleheader and the best-of-three series.
"Being able to call pitches together with Chase and our staff is really fun," Mills said. "I have been catching those guys since we were really young. We are all on board together. I trust my pitchers to throw any pitch for a strike in any count. Chase was hitting his spots, and our defense did great behind him. We have stressed pitching and defense all year."
Ringgold (27-6) has now won 23 of its past 24 games and will either host Mary Persons or travel to Harlem next Wednesday.
Coach Drew Walker's team put the pressure on its opponent, and positive results followed. After all, one of their signs in the team's clubhouse and a lesson has been preached to the Tigers is: Pressure bursts pipes.
The finish to game one was thrilling and as wild as they get. With the bases loaded and one out and the score tied at 5, the Tigers popped up a suicide squeeze to the Sandy Creek first baseman. However, trying to double the runner off of third base, a throw across the diamond sailed wide left and hit the fence, allowing Kenyon Ransom to hustle back to third to tag up and head home for the victory.
Going against Georgia signee Glenn Green in game two was not easy as the Sandy Creek standout struck out 15 batters and had a no-hitter through four innings.
However, Ringgold broke through soon after Ransom made a diving catch in the left-center gap to prevent a run from scoring in the bottom of the fourth.
Ransom led off the fifth with a walk and stole second before advancing to third as the ball hopped into center field on the low throw. Sophomore Ross Norman laced the Tigers' first hit of the night into left field for a 1-0 lead.
Ringgold added two runs in the sixth as Nathan Parker drove an RBI single to left and Colin Mountjoy drove a two-strike pitch to right for a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0.
"Kenyon's diving catch was huge for us today because it saved Chase from going over pitch count and us having to take him out in the seventh," Walker said. "Chase was a bulldog against one of the best lineups we have seen all year. He battled and mixed his pitches up really well."
Ringgold's Mangum kept swinging a hot postseason bat and had a double and three hits in game one, while Mills had an RBI single.
Sandy Creek's Daniel Belcher had three hits and a trio of RBIs on Wednesday.
"When we had runners in scoring position, we made our hits count," Mills said. "Ross came up with the big hit in game two, and both were great team wins. We are looking forward to the elite eight and are really locked in together."