Thursday’s home, non-region game against Alexander was the first for the Cartersville High baseball team in the friendly confines of Richard Bell Field since the first game of the season way back on Valentine’s Day.
In that month between games at RBF, a few trends have begun to emerge for the now 10-3 Canes, who are now No. 2 in the Georgia Dugout Preview Class 4A state rankings.
The first trend, when Mason Barnett pitches, there’s a good chance the Canes are going to win. The senior Auburn signee improved to 5-0 this year in his five starts as the Canes took a 3-0 non-region win over Class 6A Alexander Thursday.
Barnett threw four innings, allowed just one hit, and has yet to allow an earned run on the year. Cohen Wilbanks pitched well in relief, throwing two innings and allowing two hits with one strikeout. Gage Morris then came on to pitch the seventh for the save and allowed just a hit batsman.
The Canes’ pitching staff as a team is allowing less than 2.5 runs per game.
The second trend is South Alabama commit Preston Welchel is off to a scorching start, and he moved to the No. 3 hole in the lineup Thursday. Welchel hit an RBI double in the third inning for Cartersville’s first run of the game, and he's now hitting .378 and slugging an impressive .838 with eight extra-base hits in 37 at bats to start the year.
All three of Cartersville’s runs Thursday came with two outs in an inning. Welchel’s double in the third scored one run. In the sixth, Jordan Wilkie walked and Alan Thacker doubled to put two runners on base. Ian Inaba then delivered a two-run single on the first pitch he saw in the at bat to make the score 3-0. The hit came after an impressive catch by Inaba in left field in the top half of the inning.
Wilkie, in addition to the run scored on a walk in the sixth, also had two hits in the game, including a double.
All three pitchers who threw Thursday will be eligible to return for the start of Region 5-AAAA play at LaGrange on Monday. First, the Canes have another non-region game Saturday at State Mutual Stadium in Rome against Sonoraville, returning to the location of last season’s Class 4A state championship series loss to Jefferson.