BASEBALL: Ringgold takes Game 1 against Hart County
There were two different winners at Bill Womack Field on Wednesday night - the Ringgold Tigers and Mother Nature.
Ringgold used a walk-off, RBI-single from Andre Tarver in the bottom of the seventh to beat Hart County, 5-4, in Game 1 of their best-of-three series before an intense thunderstorm with heavy rain and frequent lightning halted Game 2 in the second inning.
That game is scheduled to be completed starting at 3 p.m. on Thursday, followed by Game 3, if necessary.
The rain put a literal damper on what had been an entertaining and, at times, controversial opening contest.
The Bulldogs put up two runs in the top of the first inning after an extremely questionable call went against the Tigers. With two runners on base and two out in the inning, Hart’s Chase Dalton hit a deep flyball to centerfield that Tarver appeared to have caught following an incredible, twisting, diving catch on the warning track.
However, a field umpire rule that Tarver did not catch the ball, much to the disbelief of Ringgold and the Ringgold faithful, while both runs scored on the play. All three umpires conferred over the call and it appeared for a short time that the ruling would be reversed. But after even more discussion, the original ruling on the field stood, eliciting cheers from the Hart contingent and a chorus of hearty boos from the homestanding patrons.
But Ringgold would answer in the bottom of the inning. Wyatt Tennant would double to lead off the frame. He would take third base after a throw on a pickoff attempt at second sailed high and he was awarded home when the throw to third landed in the Tigers’ dugout.
Later in the inning, with a runner at first base, Tarver stepped to the plate and promptly swatted a homerun over the rightfield wall, which briefly gave the Tigers a one-run lead. However, the Bulldogs appealed, saying the lead runner failed to touch home plate and the appeal was upheld, resulting in one out and taking one of the runs off the board, leaving the game tied, 2-2.
After Ringgold starter Holden Tucker left the bases loaded in the top of the third, he got the bottom of the inning started by slapping a single to left before courtesy runner Kyle White scored on an RBI-double by Daulton Schley. Tucker would then add to the lead with a solo homer to lead off the fifth inning.
But in the top of the sixth, the Bulldogs got a leadoff single from Luke Lee before Dalton belted a two-run shot to knot the game at 4-4. However, that would be all the runs that Hart would score in the inning as Tucker gritted his teeth and struck out the next three batters.
Then in the seventh, Hart got the first batter of the inning out before going to their bullpen. Ethan Jones was called in to replace starter Casey Tallent, who was right at his pitch limit, and was immediately greeted by a single off the bat of Tennant. Tucker drew a walk to put two ducks on the pond for Tarver, who singled to left to bring in Tennant with the game-winner.
Tucker finished the day 3-for-3 at the plate and also picked up the victory on the hill. He went all seven innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits and one walk. He finished the day with 13 strikeouts.
Tennant, Tarver, and Schley had two hits apiece, while Brayden Broome added a single. Dalton had two hits for the Bulldogs and drove in all four runs.
Game 2 saw the Tigers bat first as the designated visiting team. They failed to score in the first two innings, while Hart failed to score in its first at-bat. The Bulldogs had a runner at second base with two outs in the bottom of the second when a flash of lightning automatically halted play.
With weather radar showing storms approaching, the Ringgold players put the tarps on the field and headed for shelter just a few minutes before the skies opened up. Rain, heavy at times, continued for over an hour, along with frequent lightning, resulting in game officials choosing to call off the proceedings at approximately 9:45 p.m.