The Cartersville Purple Hurricanes’ baseball team ran into a red-hot Northside-Columbus club Wednesday evening in the Class AAAA state quarterfinals at Richard Bell Field and were eliminated by the Patriots in a doubleheader sweep, 3-1 in 10 innings and 4-2 in the two clubs' best-of-three series. Northside, winners of 11 straight, advances to the Class AAAA semifinals next week to face North Oconee. The Titans knocked out Columbus Wednesday with a sweep of their own — 5-0 and 3-0.
Northside’s starting pitchers in the two games — Colton Joyner and Connor Sizemore were outstanding. Joyner (9 IP, 1R, 0ER, 8H, 2BB, 5K) went nine innings without allowing an earned run to win Game 1. Sizemore (7 IP, 2ER, 6H, 2BB, 6K) went the distance in Game 2 allowing just a pair of second inning runs.
Patriots’ centerfielder Hunter Poe picked up a save in Game 1 with a perfect tenth inning in relief of Joyner. Cartersville pitchers fared well too, but the scrappy Patriots found ways to score just enough. Gage Morris (5 IP, 2R, 0ER, 6H, 0BB, 4K) was the tough-luck loser on the mound for Cartersville in the opener in relief of starter Mason Barnett (5 IP, 1R, 0ER, 5H, 0BB, 5K). Morris, who allowed only three runs all season (all unearned) was the pitcher of record when Northside pushed across two unearned runs in the tenth. He had entered in the sixth inning after Barnett left. Barnett left the game after taking a few warm-up tosses in the sixth inning, but did not face a batter. He later returned as a re-entry batter in the tenth inning.
Canes’ starting pitcher Logan Martin (5 IP, 4R, 3ER, 4H, 2BB, 7K) suffered the Game 2 loss. Morris (1 IP, 0R, 1H) entered for his 22nd appearance of the season with a runner on base and no outs.
In the opener, both teams scored single runs in the fifth inning and no one crossed the plate again until Northside took a decisive 3-1 lead in the top of the tenth.
Hunter Poe reached second base on an error, moved to third base on a wild pitch, and scored for the Patriots on a passed ball in the fifth.
Cartersville tied the game in the bottom of the fifth when Brant Smith and Kolby Adams singled and Smith crossed the plate on a Patriots’ infield error.
In the tenth for Northside, Clayton Weaver singled with one out. Mack Williams reached on a line drive off the glove of Josh Davis at second base. Connor O’Neal then singled into right field and the ball was misplayed into a two-run, two base error. Poe then retired the Canes in order in the bottom of the tenth for Northside’s 3-1 victory. Cartersville led 2-0 in Game 2 before Northside tied the score in the fourth inning and added single runs in the fifth and sixth frames to secure the series clincher. Ian Inaba and Smith drove in the Canes’ early runs in the second inning, but the Patriots responded late with four unanswered runs. Spencer Chandler drove in Northside’s first run with a groundout and Williams — who was hit by a pitch — scored on a wild pitch. Poe scored in the fifth after reaching as a hit batsman. The Patriots sacrificed him to second base. He reached third on a wild pitch and scored on Colton Joyner’s ground out to first base.
Northside added an insurance run in the sixth following a walk, a ground out, and a RBI single by Chandler.
Trailing 4-2, Davis singled for the Hurricanes in the seventh inning but a fly out, strikeout, and groundout ended the game and the series.
Weaver (RBI, 2 runs), O’Neal, and Chandler (2 RBI) were all 3-for-8 in the doubleheader to pace Northside’s offense. Poe was 2-for-2 with a run scored in Game 2. Tray Richburg and Justin Veloz both contributed two hits each in the opening game for the Patriots.
For Cartersville, Jordan Wilkie, Cohen Wilbanks, Davis, Inaba (RBI), and Smith (RBI) had two hits each in the doubleheader. Four other Canes — Preston Welchel, Barnett, J.P. Martin, and Adams had one hit in the series.
Northside-Columbus, the No. 3 seed out of Region 1-AAAA, improved to 28-7 with their third straight playoff sweep. Cartersville has its season end with a 28-6 mark and a Region 5-AAAA title.