After effectively using the long ball in a victory over Pike County Friday afternoon, the Ringgold Lady Tigers were edged out by Region 6 rival Rockmart late Friday night and dropped to the elimination bracket in the Class AAA state tournament in Columbus.
Ringgold 12, Pike County 0
The Lady Tigers got a one-out single from Caroline Hemphill in the top of the second inning before Taylor Layne circled the bases on an inside-the-park homerun to stake Ringgold to a 2-0 lead.
Riley Nayadley would lead off the third inning with a solo homer to left. Jade Gainer would score on a Pike County error later in the inning and an RBI-groundout by Autumn Green would later increase the lead 5-0.
Amber Gainer belted a two-run homer in the fourth to add to the lead before the Lady Tigers erupted for five runs in the top of the fifth. Addi Broome scored on a wild pitch with the bases loaded for the first run then, following a walk, Nayadley blasted a grand slam on the first pitch she saw to clear the bases and cap the scoring.
Nayadley finished 2 for 4 with five RBIs and a pair of runs scored. Jade Gainer, Layne and Hemphill each had two hits, while Layne and Amber Gainer knocked in two runs apiece.
Alyissa Sue pitched the first four innings to get the victory. She gave up just two hits and one walk and finished with two strikeouts. Maddy Bacon allowed one hit and one walk in one inning of relief.
Rockmart 7, Ringgold 6
In the nightcap, the Lady Tigers trailed 5-2 after four innings, but scored three runs in the top of the fifth to tie the game. Jade Gainer would come through with the tying single and her twin sister would lead off the seventh with a solo shot to put Ringgold in front, 6-5.
But the Lady Jackets would get a double by Gracey Arnold and a one-out single by Emilee Register to tie the game in the bottom of the inning and send it to extras.
Rockmart would turn a double play in the top of the eighth to erase a leadoff single by Broome, and they threatened to end the game quickly in the bottom of the eighth as two walks and a bunt would load the bases with nobody out.
However, Nayadley would snare a liner at shortstop and flip to Jade Gainer covering third to double up a runner and put the Lady Tigers one out away from getting out of a major jam. But Arnold stepped to the plate and delivered a two-out single to center to score Analee Morris with the game-winner, putting Rockmart into the title game.
Broome and Amber Gainer had two hits each, while six other Lady Tigers had one hit, including solo homers by Layne and Baileigh Pitts. Amber Gainer had two RBIs, while Nayadley and Jade Gainer had one RBI each.
Layne pitched the first six innings, giving up four runs on four hits. She walked six and struck out one. Sue pitched the final 1.2 innings in relief and was saddled with the loss. She allowed two walks and two hits, striking out one batter, while the run she allowed was earned.
Ringgold (24-10) will have to take down Pike County again on Saturday at 2 p.m. after Pike beat Oconee County, 8-2, in an elimination game on Friday night. Should the Lady Tigers win that match-up, they would have to beat Rockmart twice, at 4 and 6 p.m., to win state for the second straight year.