RINGGOLD, Ga. — Brent Tucker has had more than a few run-ins with umpires, but the Ringgold High School baseball coach never has had one more interesting than Thursday night in a 4-3 win at Catoosa County rival Heritage.
With the score tied at 3 in the top of the eighth inning, the Tigers had runners on third and second bases with two out. Hayden Moss hit a line drive that struck the umpire on the leg and bounced over to Heritage second baseman Tristan Tennant, who threw on to first for what would have been the third out.
After a brief meeting, however, the umpires ruled it to be a dead ball with no advancement for the runners. Moss was awarded first base and moments later Slade Dale ripped a single to center for what turned out to be the winning run.
"What originally went through my mind was that the ball had not bounced our way all night," Tucker said. "Logan Baldwin hit one off the top of the fence, and we had a couple of line drives right at people with runners in scoring position.
"You don't see that play very often. I do think that ball goes through for a hit, but then Slade came up and delivered also. That was a bit crazy, but it's a normal trip to Heritage for us. These are always good ballgames."
Neither of the game's starting pitchers, Ringgold's Austin Parrish and Heritage's Blake Hamilton, were involved in the decision, but each more than held his own on the chilly late winter evening. Parrish allowed five hits and no earned runs in seven innings, while Hamilton allowed two earned runs and seven hits in seven innings.
The Tigers (6-3) scored single runs in the first, third and fifth innings, with first baseman Chase Burke knocking in two of the runs and Baldwin scoring two, but the Generals (2-5) scored two runs in the fifth to tie it on an error and Austin Morris' two-out single.
Ringgold's Chandler Gray singled with one out in the eighth and moved to third when Kevin Ingle's potential inning-ending double play grounder was thrown into center field. After Heritage reliever Dalton Belk got a big second out with a comebacker to the mound and Moss loaded the bases with his hit of the ump, Dale lined Belk's first pitch to center.
"I was hoping to get an at-bat right there because we were having a rough time scoring runs," the junior shortstop said. "Austin pitched a great game, so we wanted to get the win. Games against Heritage are always close. Games like this are going to bring us together. It was good to see our guys go to the last pitch."
Dale, Baldwin and Burke had two hits each for the Tigers, while Tennant had two of Heritage's five hits.
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 ...