Cedartown got support from two solid outings on the mound to help boost the Bulldogs into the state quarterfinals for the second year in a row as they swept Cairo in the Class 4A Sweet 16 on Tuesday.
Jay O’Neal tossed a no-hitter in Game 1 before a complete-game victory from MJ Holiday in the finale helped seal the series win.
The doubleheader opener was nearly over before it had a chance to begin as CHS dropped a four-spot in the first inning and added another run in the third to control a 5-0 lead.
The Bulldogs proceeded to plate four more runs in the sixth and coasted to a 9-0 victory. Cedartown totaled ten hits in the second-round showdown, while strong pitching and defense allowed just two Syrupmakers to reach base.
Cole Dingler was 3-for-3 with two doubles, three RBI, and three runs scored while Reece Tanner went 2-for-3 with a double, two runs, and one run batted in. Tony Ware also had a multi-hit game, as the outfielder finished 3-for-4 with four RBI. Dylan Cupp (1-4) and O’Neal (1-4) earned base-hits in the victory and, although he was hitless, Xavier Holiday touched home plate once.
Freshman ace O’Neal tallied the second no-hitter of his rookie campaign. The South Carolina commit went the full seven innings, giving up just two walks and striking out ten batters.
Cedartown’s offense picked up where it left off in Game 2 of the doubleheader. The Bulldogs scored six runs in the first three innings and led 6-1 entering the fourth. A plethora of base runners reached in the later innings, giving way to an 11-1 triumph for the Red-and-Black and allowing for a sweep of Cairo.
Dingler stayed hot in the finale, going 3-for-5 with a double, a triple, three runs batted in, and two runs scored. Denver Nale (2-4, R) and Cupp (2-3, 2 R, RBI) had two hits each while Eli Barrow (1-4, 2B, 3 RBI), Britt Baxter (1-4), MJ Holiday (1-4, RBI), Xavier Holiday (1-3, 2 R), and Tanner (1-4, 2 R, RBI) reached safely. Ware did not record a hit in the ten-run win but did drive in one run on a sacrifice fly.
For the second year in a row, MJ Hoilday was on the mound as the Bulldogs punched their ticket to the Elite 8. The senior right-hander picked up a complete-game victory, as Cairo managed just one unearned run on two hits and two walks. Holiday rang up eight batters in Tuesday’s second game.
After holding Cairo (18-11), who had been averaging 6.6 runs per game, to one total run in 14 innings, Cedartown (24-9) moves to the GHSA Class 4A State Quarterfinals for the second time in as many years. The Bulldogs will tangle with Perry (26-9), the Region 4-4A champions, in the Elite 8.
CHS is not the only team from Region 7-4A still alive in the playoffs. The region’s four-seed, Heritage-Catoosa, continued their Cinderella run by sweeping Bainbridge on the road. The Generals will travel to LaGrange in the next round. The other Region 7-4A playoff teams fell in the second round, as Pickens was swept by Thomas County Central and Northwest Whitfield lost the deciding Game 3 at Benedictine.
The GHSA conducted a universal coin flip which ruled that Perry would host the third-round series. A doubleheader was scheduled to be played in Houston County on Monday, and the if-needed Game 3 would take place Tuesday.
Monday’s doubleheader at Perry High School will start at 4 p.m. Fans unable to make it to those games in middle Georgia can tune into WGAA Radio’s broadcasts over the air or on the NFHS Network.