Timely hitting carries Cass to region-opening win


The Cass baseball team got out-hit, made more errors and fell behind 3-0 in its Region 7-AAAAA opener against Hiram.

And yet, the Colonels practically cruised to a 9-3 victory Monday at LakePoint.

Chalk it up to drawing walks and timely hitting, plus a solid near-complete game from Evan Hinton.

Cass (7-6, 1-0) fell behind after Hiram (3-8, 0-1) put together four consecutive singles with two outs in the top of the third.

Despite falling behind 3-0 and not having produced a hit over the opening two frames, the Colonels put together their own rally in the third.

A Gavin Young walk and three straight singles, the last of which came off Steven Spell's bat, brought home the first run. After a strikeout, Clay Means hit a clutch two-run single to left field to knot the score.

Hiram escaped with the game still tied, but Cass plated four more the next inning.

Hinton led off the frame with a triple and came home to score on Young's fielder's choice. He grounded to a drawn-in second baseman, who double-clutched and then threw high to allow the run to score.

Later in the fourth, Nathan Smith singled home Young and Matt Shook for a 6-3 edge. A bases-loaded walk to Logan Nelson brought home the Colonels' seventh run.

While Hinton continued to work around 11 Hornet hits, his teammates kept producing clutch knocks at the plate.

In the sixth, Means hit a two-out triple to score Spell, and Hinton helped his cause with a run-scoring single.

"I think our hits came when runners were in scoring position," Cass coach Tim Ayers said. "Clay Means came up big again for us. I think when the hits came, that was the big thing today."

Even with a comfortable advantage, Hinton couldn't quite finish out a complete game. He threw 110 pitches over his 6 2/3 innings, which is the maximum number of pitches a Georgia high school player can throw in on one regular season day.

Hinton allowed 11 hits but crucially no walks in allowing just one earned run while striking out five.

"[Hinton] did keep battling, and he didn't have his best stuff at the beginning, but he found it in the middle of the game," Ayers said.

Wyatt Karlovich needed just three pitches to end the game, striking out the lone hitter he faced.

Even though Hinton didn't quite finish things out himself, he still leaves Cass with plenty of arms to use when they travel to Hiram on Wednesday and Woodland on Friday.

"Evan did a good job starting the week off," Ayers said. "We've got everybody. I mean Wyatt threw that one inning, but he could throw [again]. It's huge for [Hinton] to pitch 6 2/3 for us out of the gate."

It's also huge that the Colonels offense is coming through in key situations.

Means continued his fantastic season with a 2-for-3 showing with a walk, a run and three RBIs. Hinton was 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, while Young, Shook and Bryson Markley scored two runs apiece.

The most telling stat: The Colonels scored seven of their nine runs with two outs. But to Ayers, the best thing was probably outscoring the Hornets 3-0 over the final three innings.

"I want to say it's coming around," Ayers said of his team's hitting. "But throughout the year, we've done well over the first four innings. We've been outscored like 25-10 in the last three innings over the last I don't know how many games. ... I think the offense is coming."

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