Chris Hill picked up a save as he worked the top of the seventh for the Colonels, who were 1-of-2 against the Knights in games this week.
“This is a big win for us because it keeps us in contention for second in the subregion with a crossover to play a 3-seed in the region,” head coach Adam Williams said. “That is a big program win tonight. It was a lot more than just the third game of a series. We needed that in order to keep us in playoff contention.”
Cass scored first on the evening as Chris Morton, batting leadoff, opened with a double to left field in the bottom of the first. Hill then scored when Etheridge smacked a run-scoring double to deep left center. Etheridge then advanced to third on a sacrifice by Bailey Campbell but could get no farther.
River Ridge answered in the third when Luke Berryhill reached base on an error and then was doubled in by the Knights’ John Cable, knotting the score at 1-all.
The Colonels came back in the bottom of the frame when Etheridge got on by error when his liner to the second baseman was mishandled. He then stole second and later scored when Jordan Reed hit a ball down the third-base line that was ruled just fair, giving Cass a 2-1 lead.
Also scoring was Campbell, who reached after being hit by a pitch, moved to second on Reed’s single, took third on a passed ball and scored on Casey Patterson’s sacrifice fly to center field. The score provided some breathing room for the Colonels as they went ahead, 3-1.
River Ridge closed the gap to 3-2 in the top of the fifth inning when Berryhill doubled his way on base and then moved to third on a sacrifice by Elijah Brague. Cable was issued a walk to get on base and moved to second. Both headed for home when Taylor Connelly singled to right field with Berryhill scoring his team’s second run but Cable was tagged out by Cass’s Sam Russell on a close call at home plate.
Both teams threatened the rest of the way but neither could close the deal.
The Colonels stranded two runners in the bottom of the fifth at first and second. Etheridge came close to scoring both when he forced the River Ridge centerfielder to the wall with a drive.
The Colonels came close again in the sixth with men on second and third but both were still on the basepath when the final out was made.
River Ridge’s final blow in the seventh put a Colonel’s back against the wall as well.
Williams was pleased with what he saw as fight in his Colonels.
“Our kids could easily have come out after taking a couple of heartbreaking losses in our series with River Ridge,” he said. “We played well this week in reality. I know the scoreboard hasn’t reflected that, but we’ve played pretty well and we’ve just come out and kept competing and kept competing and kept competing. That’s all we do, ask our kids to come out and compete every day. If you’re giving us everything you’ve got, good things will happen. It finally happened for us.”
He said he feels good about some aspects of the Colonels’ game with the season winding down.
“Our pitching has been good,” Williams said. “It was very good tonight. Brandon threw the ball great, and Chris Hill came in there late and shut them down.”
He said other Colonels have done an excellent job on the mound.
“Ben Kapito threw 85 pitches for us [Thursday] in six innings and took a heart-breaking loss,” he said. “Our pitching is going to be fine. We’ve just got to score some runs.”
The Colonels next play Monday when they entertain Christian Heritage. The two tangle at 5:30 p.m. Cass then plays Cedartown Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 5:55 p.m. each evening.
“If we take two of three from Cedartown, we’ll be the No. 2 seed,” Williams noted. “We have a little bit to play for next week.”