Scintillating pitcher’s duel leaves Canes with 1-0 loss

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Cartersville’s Hannah Todd and Cedartown’s Ava Tillman hooked up for a stellar pitcher’s duel Tuesday, as the Canes (5-8, 1-4) fell 1-0 in eight innings in what might be one of the best games played in Georgia this season.

An error by third baseman Madison McKinney allowed the winning run to score from third in the bottom of the eighth, leaving Todd as the losing pitcher despite giving up just one hit and striking out 11.

Tillman was just as good, as the Ole Miss commit gave up two hits and struck out eight over eight innings. Each pitcher walked two.

With that level of pitching on display, baserunners, and scoring chances, were hard to come by.

Todd walked Cedartown’s leadoff hitter in the first, but struck out two to end the inning. Todd would then reach on an error leading off Cartersville’s second, but she wouldn’t advance either.

Neither team would put another runner on until the fourth, when Cartersville got both of their hits. Paris Poston singled with one out, before Todd replaced her on first after a fielder’s choice. With two outs, Lauren McElhaney singled to right to move Todd into scoring position, but Tara Mathis grounded out back to Tillmann to end the inning.

Each team would have one more chance to end the game before extra innings. In the bottom of the sixth, Todd walked Cedartown’s leadoff hitter again. Two bunts moved a pinch runner to third, but Tillman, with a chance to win her own game, grounded out to Allie Jackson at second base.

Right after that, a hit by pitch and an error put Mathis on second in Cartersville’s half of the seventh, but Tillman struck out two to end the threat.

Softball’s rules put a runner on second to start each extra inning. In Cartersville’s half of the eighth, Molly Wilson sacrificed Colbi Ballard to third with one out, but Cio Seigler hit into a double play that also saw Ballard thrown out at home.

Cedartown would make no such mistakes with their extra runner. Todd struck out the first hitter, but the runner advanced to third on a wild pitch during the at bat.

That set the stage for Cedartown’s Keelie Smith, who walked the Canes off by hitting a ground ball that McKinney couldn’t handle.

Cartersville plays next on Thursday, when they take on Central, Carrollton at home at 5:30 p.m.