Callaway baseball coach Dusty Hubbard had to say goodbye to a special group of seniors following Thursday’s season-ending loss to Cartersville.
It’s been a terrific four-year run for Callaway’s baseball program, and seniors Colby Freeman, Chase Freeman, Nick O’Berry, Jaylen Colton and Malik Malcolm had a lot to do with the success.
Callaway has made it to the state quarterfinals in two of the past three seasons, and it made it to the second round a year ago.
“It’s a good group of kids,” Hubbard said. “That’s the best thing I can say about them. It’s five really good kids. They’re leaders on our team. You watch them grow up, it’s hard to let them go. But as a coach, you have to understand that’s part of the process.”
BACK TO THE MOUND: Perry Keith threw seven brilliant innings in a 1-0 victory over Cartersville on Tuesday, so with the season on the line in Thursday’s Game 3, it was no surprise that his number was called.
Hubbard called upon Keith with two outs and runners on in the bottom of the third inning.
Keith responded with a strikeout to get out of that jam, and he went on to pitch the rest of the way for the Cavaliers.
Keith did give up a two-run single in the fifth inning, but it was still a terrific effort, especially considering he’d thrown a complete game just two days before.
“He’s as tough as it gets,” Hubbard said. “He’s as good a kid as you’ll ever coach. He plays the game hard. He plays the game right.”
SEIZING THE MOMENT: The Callaway Cavaliers were trailing by three runs, but they were in great position to take a sizeable chunk out of that deficit.
In the top of the fifth inning, the Cavaliers had the bases loaded with no outs, and a man who hit a home run earlier in the game was at the plate.
Cody Mimbs did exactly what he was supposed to do in that situation, and that’s hit the ball on the nose.
Mimbs got a pitch to his liking from Cartersville’s Lane Wilson, and he lined the ball toward the left side of the field, and it looked like it was going to land in the outfield for what likely would have been a two-run single.
The ball never made it to the outfield, though.
Cartersville shortstop Clifton Dempsey left his feet and sailed way into the air, and he managed to make a remarkable catch.
Dempsey wasn’t done.
When he landed, he whipped the ball over to third base to double off the Callaway base runner who’d wandered too far off the bag.
It was a special, perhaps a game-saving play for the Purple Hurricanes, who went on to claim a 7-2 victory.
Wilson got the final out of the fifth inning on a groundout, and it was Dempsey doing the honors by making a nice play ranging to his left.
Dempsey also got it done at the plate, with a two-run single in the second inning giving the Hurricanes a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“He’s a great player. He’s as good as it gets, and he made (plays) in big situations,” Hubbard said.
TWO-OUT SUCCESS: A key to the Hurricanes’ win on Thursday was their ability to come through with two-out hits.
All seven of Cartersville’s runs were scored with two outs.
Mark Quattelbaum and Dempsey each had two-out RBI hits in the second inning.
In the third inning, David Darnell and Garrett Rutledge both had RBI hits with two outs.
In the fifth inning, Brent Arnold capped the scoring with a two-run, two-out double.
LEAVING MEN ON: After taking a 2-0 lead on a two-run home by Cody Mimbs in the top of the first inning, the Cavaliers had plenty of chances to put more runs on the scoreboard, but they were unable to make it happen.
The Cavaliers left eight men on base in the game.
In the first inning, the Cavaliers had the bases loaded with one out, but they were unable to score.
The Cavaliers loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth inning but couldn’t score, and the game ended in the seventh inning with two men on base.
“We had our shots,” Hubbard said.