RINGGOLD, Ga. — Todd Middleton wasn't a proponent of the new Region 7-AAAA baseball schedule. The Northwest Whitfield coach is beginning to warm, however, to playing three-game series against league foes each week after the Bruins completed their second consecutive sweep by downing Heritage 7-5 on Friday.
"I like it all right now," Middleton said, smiling. "We just keep plugging along. We've got three quality starting pitchers and some guys in relief we can use. Pitching depth is the key, and so far so good."
Andy Whisenant, Northwest's No. 3 starter, improved to 4-1 with 6 2/3 innings of solid, if not overpowering, pitching. The right-hander allowed only six hits with the five runs and helped himself with three hits, two RBIs and three stolen bases.
Middleton had the bullpen working for most of the game, something Whisenant couldn't help but notice.
"I wasn't worried," said the pitcher, who was a bit wild early in allowing two first-inning runs. "I just told myself I had to get the job done. Basically, it just kind of motivated me more to stay out there."
The Bruins (11-3, 6-0) managed 10 hits -- nine of them singles -- against two Heritage pitchers, but four hit batters and aggressive baserunning made the difference. A single, a hit-by-pitch and a walk loaded the bases with no outs in the second inning with Heritage up 2-1. Diego Peralta brought in one with a sacrifice fly, Edwin Hernandez scored another with a single and two scored on an error and a passed ball.
"That's been how it's been in five of the six region games -- find a way to get on and put pressure on the defense," Middleton said. "We're not hitting it like we did a couple of weeks ago, but I can't complain."
The Bruins were close to putting the game away in the third on Whisenant's two-run single, but the Generals (5-9, 3-3) -- who were playing without regulars Colby Chattin and Lee Gibson -- scored three runs in the fourth to cut the lead to two. Brett Badacour had a two-run single and Noah Hill followed with an RBI hit, but Whisenant regrouped to sit down eight consecutive batters before Hill reached on a single with one out in the seventh.
Whisenant got the next out, but with dangerous Jared Porter the tying run at the plate for Heritage, the Northwest coach went with ace Seth Pierce for the final out. The sophomore left-hander needed only four pitches to get the game-ending strikeout.
Hernandez had a pair of hits for Northwest, while Hill had two of Heritage's six hits.
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com or at 423-757-6296.
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 ...