Cass hopes lesson learned vs. Columbia
by Andrew B. Adler
May 02, 2013 | 1032 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Silence was not that golden during the bus ride back from Tunnel Hill last Friday. Very few words were exchanged between the Cass Colonels’ players and coaches who were still feeling the sting of losing Game 3 of the 7-AAAA region championship to Northwest Whitfield by one run.

A day earlier, the Colonels had won Game 1 only to have the host Bruins come back to the tie the series with a win in extra innings in Game 2. Of little comfort was Cass winning the Region 7A-AAAA championship with a sweep of Cedartown a week earlier and thus becoming one of 32 teams to advance to the Class AAAA state playoffs.

“I think it was how we lost the region championship that hurts the most,” Cass baseball coach Adam Williams said. “We definitely had our chances to win it. Our pitching and defense were superb. What killed us was stranding too many base runners in scoring position. If anything good came out of our playoff {it} was learning that you don’t always need to hit a double in a gap to score the runner from third.”

To emphasize his concern about run production, Williams quickly pointed out the .229 batting average Cass had accrued with runners in scoring position against Northwest Whitfield.

He made sure his starting lineup had learned its lesson during its first practice 24 hours after returning from Tunnel Hill, as it prepared to host the Columbia Eagles Friday at home in the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.

Williams did not have to pontificate the importance of what it meant to be the host team.

“When we take the field Friday, we will be representing not only Cass High School, but the community as well,” he said.

“This is the first time in 33 years that Cass is hosting a state playoff series.”

The last time was in 1980, when they were swept by Winder-Barrow.

The Colonels enter the state playoffs this season with a 16-10 overall record and the No. 2 seed out of Region 7-AAAA. The Eagles finished their season 18-4-2 overall, 11-2 in region 6-AAAA play.

A full house is expected to be on hand to witness Games 1 and 2 Friday, and also to honor those players from the 1977 and 1980 teams as well. These were the last two Cass baseball teams to host a state playoff game.

“Hosting the first round of the state playoffs is a great honor,” Williams said. “But we cannot forget that we have to win two ballgames if we want to advance to the next round of the state playoffs. Columbia is a very good team which plays great defense and turns singles into doubles. We understand what we have to do to win, and not to get caught up in the pre-game festivities.”

If coach Williams stays true to form, Dylan Williams will be the starting pitcher in Game 1 and Brandon Etheridge in Game 2. Chaz Wilson will be asked to pitch Saturday if a Game 3 is necessary.

Dylan Williams struck out 14 in the Colonels’ 4-1 win in Game 1 against Northwest Whitfield. Etheridge fanned 12 in the 4-2, 10-inning loss in Game 2.

“If we win Game 1, then we want to close it out in Game 2,” coach Williams said. “We found out that anything can happen in Game 3.”

During the regular season, the Colonels won Game 3 of their three-game series against Gilmer, Pickens and Cedartown. In the region championship, the Colonels led 6-3 heading into the bottom of the sixth in Game 3.

Game 1 of Cass-Columbia is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. Game 2 will soon follow. If necessary, Game 3 will start at 2 p.m. Saturday.