Polk School District may have been on Spring Break, but Cedartown baseball went back to work last week.
The Bulldogs participated in the Battle for Bartow Classic at LakePoint Sporting Community in Emerson on Thursday and Friday. CHS competed well against Bartow County competition in the high school baseball showcase, winning two of their three games.
Cedartown suffered their only loss at LakePoint on Thursday afternoon as the Bulldogs played former region foe Cartersville, the No. 5 ranked team in Class 5A, and led for the majority of the matchup until falling 6-3.
Dylan Cupp tripled in the first at-bat of the game and came home on a fielder’s choice, giving CHS a 1-0 lead. The Bulldogs held that advantage until pitching woes reared their ugly head in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Cartersville struck for four runs and ran out in front 4-1.
Cupp, a sophomore committed to Mississippi State, scored again in the fifth inning, but the Canes responded with one run each in the fifth and sixth innings. Cupp recorded his second three-bagger in the top of the seventh and scored for the third time, but that was as close as Cedartown would get in a 6-3 loss.
Cupp was 2-for-3 with three runs in the defeat. Reece Tanner was officially hitless but drove in Cupp all three times. Eli Barrow was the only other batter to record a hit, finishing 2-for-3 against the Canes. Corben Cuzzort went three innings, striking out one and surrendering four earned runs on seven hits and three walks.
Camden Jackson pitched two innings in relief, allowing one earned run on two hits and one walk. The senior tallied one strikeout on the day. Britt Baxter pitched the final inning, getting one strikeout but giving up one run on one hit and one walk.
The Bulldogs were able to bounce back in their first game of Friday’s doubleheader in Emerson as they knocked off Cass 5-2. A two-run double from Cuzzort and a defensive error in the first inning allowed Cedartown to jump out in front 3-0, and great pitching from the boys in red-and-black allowed the Bulldogs to hold on late for a three-run victory.
Cuzzort finished 1-for-4 with two RBIs and one run scored while Eli Barrow was 2-for-3 with one RBI. Denver Nale drove in one run and scored once in a 1-for-4 performance. Cupp, Tanner, and Cade Dingler also scored in the win over Cass.
It looked as if Cedartown would blow out Woodland in the Bulldogs’ LakePoint finale, but a fierce comeback attempt by the Wildcats resulted in a tight finish. Fortunately for CHS, the pitching and defense was strong enough late to hold on for a 9-8 win.
The Bulldogs used three-run bursts in the first, fourth, and fifth innings to control a 9-2 advantage late in the game. Woodland did not quit though and battled back to score six in the bottom of the fifth inning. After the offensive fireworks in the middle innings, neither side could score in the final two innings and Cedartown won by the slimmest of margins.
Freshman Cole Dingler had a perfect day at the plate, going 3-for-3 with one run. Cuzzort was 2-for-3 with two runs batted in and one run scored. Nale was able to celebrate his 16th birthday the right way, finishing with two RBIs in a 2-for-4 day against the Wildcats.
Tanner was hitless but still added two runs and drove in two runs versus Woodland. Cupp went 2-for-5 and scored once while Cade Dingler went 1-4 with one run. Baxter and Zane Barrow each scored, and Xavier Holiday recorded a hit.
Xavier Holiday recorded his first varsity start against Woodland and went just one inning, giving up two runs on two hits and three walks. Baxter pitched three scoreless innings of relief, striking out one batter and giving up just one hit.
Jack Roper pitched 2/3 of an inning, allowing no earned runs on three hits and two walks. Matthew Henslee saw his first appearance of the season after Roper, allowing just one hit and getting one strikeout in 1 1/3 innings.
Cupp was called upon to close it out in the seventh inning, striking out one and walking one before recording the final out.
Cedartown was without two starters at LakePoint. Two Bulldogs were evidently injured on March 2 at Pickens — MJ Holiday hurt his right shoulder while stealing a base against the Dragons and Harlem Diamond was a little shaken up after recording a fantastic diving catch in left field.
Coach Gevin Johnson said he is hopeful Holiday and Diamond can return to the starting lineup in the next few weeks.
The Bulldogs, who are one game out of first place in Region 7-4A, play their penultimate region series this week. Cedartown was set to travel to Southeast Whitfield on Tuesday afternoon to open the series with the Raiders, but the Bulldogs will host a doubleheader to finish out the series on Friday afternoon.