DALTON, Ga. — Team meetings are a regular occurrence in baseball. Some work, some backfire and some lead to more meetings.
It took just one for the Heritage High School team and its six seniors to turn around what had been a frustrating season.
A sweep at the hands of Northwest Whitfield late last month left the Generals at 6-8 and 3-3 in league play. A team that had sights on a Region 7-AAAA title was at a crossroads. A meeting after that series, though, cleared the air and Heritage, with Tuesday's 7-1 win over Dalton, has now won seven consecutive league games.
"Right after the sweep against Northwest we got together in the clubhouse and basically said we had to come together as a team," said senior Austin Morris, who pitched a five-hitter Tuesday. "Since then we've played better."
The win temporarily moves the Generals (12-9, 10-3) into second place in subregion B. They need to at least split the remaining two games against the Catamounts (10-11, 9-4) to finish second and host a region play-in series next week against the No. 3 seed from subregion A.
"It's a big deal to get the second seed, and it's a big deal for both teams," Heritage coach Eric Beagles said. "This was just one step, and now we have to regroup and have [another] good day against a quality team."
The Generals rapped out nine hits Tuesday, including three each from leadoff man Noah Hill and senior center fielder Jacob Carter. They scored twice in the third inning on a two-out, two-run single by Jared Porter, then added RBI singles by Hill and Lee Gibson in the fourth.
The runs were more than enough for Morris, who held the Catamounts scoreless until back-to-back two-out doubles in the seventh.
"To hold that lineup through six innings to three hits was good," Beagles said. "Austin has a great pace and he threw like a senior today. The kids played well behind him, and they maintained focus for seven innings. We got some guys on, moved them and got some timely hitting."
Morris, like his coach, has his sights squarely set on that No. 2 seed.
"We need the No 2 seed because we want to play at home, which is always good," said Morris, who made the Catamounts put the ball in play with just one walk and three strikeouts. "My goal was to just throw strikes and let my defense make plays behind me. I definitely pitch to contact, so throwing strikes is the key."
The two teams square off again Thursday at Heritage before ending the series Friday back at Dalton.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...