Moral victories aren’t the end goal, but positive momentum can cement the building blocks for a foundation of success, and that’s what the Sandy Creek Patriots are doing battling tooth-and-nail in one of the state’s toughest baseball regions in any classification. Friday night they had to settle for another near miss, digging out of a big early hole before falling to the top five-ranked Cartersville Hurricanes 6-2.
“One thing this group has done all year is continue to battle. I think we hear it everyday you can’t judge this group on their record. We’ve got a pretty darn good ball team,” said Coach Nick Pou. “We feel like we can play against the best teams in the state. These guys have seen arms all year.”
Cartersville opened up like the state title contender they are, racking up three runs before their first out, and they led 5-0 at the end of the top of the first.
“Overall we’re pretty darn young, and we have young moments, but we’re learning,” said Pou.
After getting roughed up for five runs in the first, Logan Byerly settled in and only allowed one more run over the next three innings.
“Logan did a great job settling down well,” said Pou.
Jonathan Little took to the mound from short stop and shut down the Canes’ bats over three scoreless frames. Little is a player Pou is especially excited about. Just a freshman, he is likely in line to already earn All-Region accolades.
“Little has done that all year.”
The Patriot bats finally kicked into gear in the bottom of the fourth. Jordan Thomas singled up the middle and raced to third as Brian Siefert reached base on an error. Courtesy runner Dylan Rice baited the pitcher on a double steal attempt, and a bad throw to catch the runner off third went wide, allowing Thomas to race home to get Sandy Creek on the board.
The defense turned in a gem in the top of the sixth to keep the Canes from scoring again, as Thomas, another promising freshman, made the play in the outfield and fired off a laser to the plate on the money for Siefert to tag out the runner.
Sandy Creek struck again in the bottom half. Siefert got on with an infield single, Connor Housley drew a walk, and Byerly got plunked to load the bases with two outs. Rice sprinted home on a wild pitch to make it 6-2, but they could not scratch out any more runs.
The final score wasn’t what they hoped for, but the key moments are a glimpse of successes to come.
“We’re playing the game the right way, and we’re playing it against good teams, and that’s really all I can ask for right now. I’ve told them I’m not looking at your record, I could care less about that, we want to get this program going the right way,” said Pou. “We’re getting there. We’re excited.”
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