Young “Cats” Look for Thunder

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With rising temperatures and the grass turning green, it can mean only one thing: it’s time for baseball! The Gilmer Bobcats had quite a busy first week, playing five total games over five days. The first was a scrimmage which was won against Gordon Central, but the real season started on Thursday. The Bobcats faced North Murray, followed by Gordon Central on Friday, and then Union County and Fannin County as part of a round robin on Saturday. While they would drop all four games, it is important to remember that this year’s baseball team is very young and raw but filled with talent.On Thursday, the Bobcats welcomed North Murray into town. The Mountaineers jumped out to an early lead by scoring four runs in the top of the first. Good hitting scored the first run, and a sacrifice fly plated another. With a runner on, the big first baseman for North Murray put a ball over the left field wall for a 2-run homer. The Bobcats would record a strikeout to end the inning.

With Dakota Welch on the mound, the Mountaineer hitters seemed to be tamed until single put a runner on, and a sacrifice bunt moved him over. A balk moved the runner to third and a sac fly brought him home, but it was all North Murray could do in the inning and after six innings the Mountaineers led 5-0.

Mistakes allowed five more runs to score in the top of the 7th and final inning. The Bobcats would not go down without a fight though, loading the bases up for Noah Ralston with nobody out. Ralston hit a bloop over the shortstop’s head allowing one run to score. Garrett Rigdon singled in another run while an error on the play allowed one more to score.

Chad Watkins then hit into a fielder’s choice to plate another run and it left runners at the corners with two outs for senior Nathan Bradley. North Murray’s pitcher was able to work out of the jam though and the Bobcats lost 10-4.

On Friday the Bobcats traveled to Gordon Central to take on the Warriors in a rematch of Tuesday’s scrimmage. Mayson Carver took the mound for the Bobcats in this one and pitched very strong for the “Cats.” After allowing a leadoff double, a great defensive play by Dalton Stephens along with two strikeouts from Carver helped keep the Warriors off the board.

Again Carver worked out of a jam when the bases were loaded. He allowed no runs and finally got some help when Stephens knocked in the first run of the game to give GHS a 1-0 lead in the top of the 3rd. Gordon Central stormed back and took the lead in the bottom half of the 3rd by scoring two unearned runs.

The “Cats” would even the score in the top of the 5th after Rigdon reached on a bunt single and then stole a base. Tucker Plouffe brought him home with a hit and GHS was tied 2-2 going into the bottom of the 5th.

A costly error by the Bobcats gave the Warriors a 3-2 lead late in the game, and Gilmer was unable to come back again. The “Cats” finished the game with three errors which all lead to runs. Head coach, James Plouffe, made that the focal point after the game, letting the team know that without the errors the win would have been Gilmer’s.

He also noted that he wanted to prove everyone wrong because the common thought this year is that Gilmer will be the easy win with the youth and inexperience.

On Saturday GHS hosted Diamond Day, a round-robin format that brought Union and Fannin to town. The Bobcats played the early game against Union and Tucker Plouffe was on the mound.

Plouffe kept hitting his marks, but the Panther batters were putting everything into play. After allowing two runs, he was able to settle in and record the third out but GHS trailed 2-0.

The Bobcat offense wasted no time getting on the board in the bottom half of the 1st inning. Rigdon took an outside pitch the other way and Dusty Lacy drew a walk. After Plouffe moved the runners over with a sacrifice, Watkins plated Rigdon with an opposite field single. That’s all the “Cats” could score, ending the inning down 2-1.

In the top of the 3rd, errors by GHS led to a 3-run inning by the Panthers. Again the “Cats” would answer with two runs when Watkins and Plouffe were knocked in by Stephens. Rigdon would come in to pitch in the top of the 4th and more errors would lead to four more runs, along with another error caused run in the fifth.

In the bottom of the fifth, Lacy scored when Avery Sirmans drew a bases loaded walk. After Plouffe scored on a balk, the inning was over and Gilmer trailed 10-5 with two innings remaining. Union would go on to score another five runs and GHS fell 15-5.

The final game of Diamond Day was between Gilmer and Fannin. Chad Watkins was on the mound in this one, and after a scoreless first inning he found himself in a jam with the bases loaded in the second. He struck out the next two batters, but the Rebels were able to score one run before Noah Ralston fielded a grounder for the final out of the inning.

Fannin scored another run in the third inning, but Gilmer scored one as well when Lacy brought home Rigdon. The bottom of the 4th was a great inning for Gilmer as the offense scored three runs and took a 4-2 lead.

Watkins and Stephens each reached on infield hits, proving that hustling out of the box is always a must. A passed ball allowed the runners to move up, and another led to Watkins scoring.

Chris James hit into a fielder’s choice, but everyone was safe after Fannin mishandled the ball. Another passed ball led to Stephens scoring and to a pitching change. Noah Wilson brought James home with a bunt and the inning ended with the “Cats” ahead.

The Rebels came right back in the top of the fifth, taking a 5-4 lead. The Bobcats was able to tie it up when Watkins plated Rigdon in the bottom of the fifth, but the Rebels exploded for five more runs and took the game 10-5.

The Bobcats have three games this week. GHS travels to Dawson on Tuesday, play Dawson at home on Thursday, and welcome SE Whitfield to town on Friday. Tuesday’s game starts at 5:55 while the other two will begin at 5:00.

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