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Bartow County Little League tops Smyrna 3-1 to win first round game at state tourney

Bartow County Little League (12U) gave up a run in the third inning Saturday morning before scoring three times in the bottom of the fourth for an eventual 3-1 win over Smyrna Little League in the opening round of the 2022 Georgia Little League Baseball State Tournament at Hicks Park in Cartersville.

Smyrna scored its unearned run in the third inning on a single, a groundout, and an infield error.

After that run gave Smyrna a 1-0 lead, Bartow pitchers Blaine Groce, Grayson Isham, and Matt Zander blanked Smyrna over the final 3-1/3 innings. The trio of hurlers allowed only one hit and two walks.

Groce was the starter and completed the first three innings on the mound. He allowed one unearned run on one hit and one walk while striking out six. Isham recorded three strikeouts over the next inning and one-third before Zander retired all five batters he faced — four by strikeout.

Bartow’s three runs in the fourth inning scored on a single, two walks, a fielder’s choice, a wild pitch, and a passed ball.

Groce, who had one of Bartow’s only two hits in the game, singled to start the Bartow fourth inning. Isham followed with a walk. Zander, who had a second inning single, gounded into a fielder’s choice next in the Bartow fourth. An infield throwing error by Smyrna, however, enabled Groce to score on the play to tie the score at 1-1.

Zander moved around to third on a pair of wild pitches during a strikeout before Noah Rogers walked.

Noah Janssen was inserted as a special pinch runner for Zander at third base and — after Rogers stole second with two outs — Janssen scored on a wild pitch to put Bartow County ahead 2-1. Rogers moved over to third on that same wild pitch and then scored a pitch later on a passed ball for a 3-1 Bartow County advantage.

Bartow advances to the second round Sunday at 2 p.m. against Harris County. Harris County defeated Athens Little League Saturday morning 15-1 in the opening round game for those two teams.

Other first round action in the double-elimination tournament saw Dudley Little League outlast Peachtree City 4-1 and Martinez-Evans Little League topped Toccoa Little League, 13-3.

Sunday’s schedule: (Hicks Park in Cartersville)

2 p.m. — Rudy York Field — Harris County (1-0) vs. Bartow County (1-0) 2:30 p.m. — JFH Field — Dudley (1-0) vs. Martinez-Evans (1-0) 4:30 p.m. — Athens (0-1) vs. Smyrna (0-1) (elimination game) 5 p.m. — JFH Field — Peachtree City (0-1) vs. Toccoa (0-1) (elimination game)

The state tournament continues through Thursday with the winner representing Georgia at the Southeast Regional in Warner Robins August 4-9.


Little League and GRPA tournament results are provided to Bartow Sports Zone by Cartersville Little League and Bartow County Little League plus the Cartersville and Bartow County Parks and Recreation Departments. The game data is shared by the leagues via GameChanger reports from the respective teams and/or leagues. Results and capsules are sponsored on Bartow Sports Zone by The Benefit Consulting Group of Cartersville and George F. Willis Realty.


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