Cedartown baseball has heated up at the right time and, entering the final week of the regular season, the Bulldogs control their own destiny in Region 7-4A.
After sweeping Southeast Whitfield in a three-game series last week, Cedartown is now 12-3 in region play and are two wins away from their first region title since 2016.
The Bulldogs won Tuesday’s matchup in Dalton 8-5. Cedartown’s offense did not get going until a two-run fourth inning but generated eight total runs in the game’s final four innings.
Sophomore righty Reece Tanner produced his best start of the season, tossing six scoreless innings at Southeast Whitfield High School, but struggled in the bottom of the seventh. The Raiders battled back by scoring five runs against Tanner and reliever Camden Jackson, but closer Dylan Cupp entered and recorded the final out to finish the game.
Freshman outfielder Cole Dingler was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and one run scored while Corben Cuzzort finished 2-for-4 with two runs. Denver Nale scored three times and drove in one run in a 1-for-3 performance. Zane Barrow was 1-for-3 with one run scored and one run batted in. Cade Dingler and Eli Barrow each finished with one hit and one RBI in Dalton. Xavier Holiday was 2-for-3 with one run batted in.
Tanner pitched six innings, allowing four earned runs on four hits and four walks, Camden Jackson allowed one earned run one on hit and one walk in 2/3 of an inning, and Dylan Cupp pitched the final 1/3 inning with no harm done. Tanner recorded five strikeouts while Jackson, a recent Shorter commit, tallied two.
Cedartown started Friday’s doubleheader in Polk County with an exclamation point by run-ruling Southeast Whitfield 15-3 in five innings. The Bulldogs scored three runs in each of the first three innings and six runs in the bottom of the fourth to secure the 12-run victory.
After going hitless on Tuesday, Cupp stole the show in the first game on Friday. The sophomore shortstop was 2-for-2 with four RBIs and four runs, but the highlight came when Cupp swiped third base in the bottom of the fourth inning. The stolen base wrote Cupp’s name in the CHS history books, topping Miles Minge for most stolen bases in a single season with 32.
Tanner also had a solid day at the plate, driving in two runs and scoring twice while going 2-for-3. Xavier Holliday was 2-for-3 with two runs and Eli Barrow was 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Nale had two RBIs and scored once in a 2-for-3 day, while Cade Dingler was 1-for-3 with three runs batted in. Cole Dingler was 1-for-3 with one run and one RBI, Cuzzort was 1-for-4, and Zane Barrow scored once.
Cuzzort allowed just two earned runs on two hits and six walks while striking out seven in four innings. Jackson pitched one hitless inning in relief, garnering two strikeouts and giving up one walk.
Coach Gevin Johnson’s squad had an equally impressive outing in the third and final game of the series by stomping the Raiders 16-2 in five innings. After scoring two runs in the first inning and two in the second inning, the Bulldogs exploded for ten runs in the bottom of the third to blow the game wide open.
Cedartown allowed two runs in the top of the fourth inning, scored two runs themselves in the bottom of the fourth, and held on in the fifth for another quick victory at the Dawg Pound.
Nale led the team by going 3-for-4 with three RBIs and one run. Tanner was 2-for-2 with two runs scored and one run batted in while Cupp was 1-for-3 and scored three times. Xavier Holiday scored twice and drove in one run while going 1-for-2 at the plate and Zane Barrow was 1-for-2 with one RBI and one run.
Cole Dingler was officially hitless but recorded two runs batted in and one run, and his older brother Cade finished 1-for-3 with one RBI.
Camden Jackson picked up his first varsity hit in the blowout, while Britt Baxter, Alex Cornejo, Corben Cuzzort, Matt Henslee, Trent Johnson, and Jack Roper all scored for the Bulldogs.
“I think it was great getting a lot of guys playing time on Friday night,” Gevin Johnson said. “The guys have worked extremely hard, all of them, so they’ve earned the chance to get out there and play in those situations.”
Following the three-game sweep of Southeast Whitfield (11-16, 4-14), Cedartown remains in sole position of second place in the region. The interesting part of the week is what happened in other series around the region.
As expected, region-leader Heritage-Catoosa swept Central-Carrollton in their three-game set. However, Northwest Whitfield, the only team to take two games against Cedartown in region play, was shocked by lowly Ridgeland on Friday night. The Bruins won the first game on Tuesday but lost both games in Rossville on Friday night to fall to 9-6 in region play.
This means that if Northwest Whitfield (19-8, 9-6) loses one game to Central-Carroll this week or if Cedartown (17-8, 12-3) wins one game versus Heritage-Catoosa (20-5, 13-2), the Bulldogs can finish no lower than second in the region standings. This would guarantee Cedartown their first home playoff series since 2016.
It is even simpler when it comes to the region championship race. Whoever wins this week’s series will win the Region 7-4A title. Cedartown plays Heritage-Catoosa, the top team in the region. The Generals are currently ranked no. 9 in Class 4A by Georgia Dugout Preview, so it will not be an easy task for the Bulldogs.
“We were able to take care of business this week, so now we need two wins next week,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be tough, they’re a good team, but our guys are ready for it.”
Cedartown hosts Heritage-Catoosa for the final regular season home game on Tuesday night. The Senior Night game will start at 5:30 p.m. at Cedartown High School with festivities held afterwards on the field.
The Bulldogs travel to Ringgold for a doubleheader to finish up the region championship series on Friday, with first pitch set for 5:30 p.m. at Heritage High School.