The Carrollton High School baseball team welcomed Heritage-Catoosa and Northgate to Cole Field on a misty Saturday for a triple-header that saw the Trojans square off against the Generals in Game 1 before facing the Vikings in Game 3.
Backed by a dominant outing on the mound from right-hander Chris Gaiter, the Trojans (6-1) combined for 11 hits and opened the day with a 15-0 win over Heritage in a run-rule shortened contest.
Gaiter allowed just one hit -- a one-out triple off the bat of the second batter he faced -- while recording six strikeouts over three shutout innings.
"Gaiter looked good on the mound. He and [catcher] Jared Aldridge have a good rapport and they're a good battery," first-year Carrollton head coach Scott Johnson said. "Very confident whenever he's out there, and he showed what he's all about [Saturday]."
The righty helped his own cause at the plate early, collecting the Trojans' first hit of the day when he roped a two-out double to straightway center field in the first inning. In the ensuing at-bat, Ty Murray went the other way with an RBI double to left field that drove in courtesy runner Nick Tuggle to put Carrollton in front, 1-0.
After a shutdown frame from Gaiter in the second inning, the Trojans went back to work at the plate and doubled their lead when Grayson Udombon poked an RBI single to shallow left field.
The game quickly unraveled from there, as the Generals committed four fielding errors early in the second inning to allow Carrollton to plate four runs, giving the home club a six-run advantage.
The Trojans would add a pair of runs later in the frame on Charlie Lanier's double to left field before Ryan Anderson belted a shot to left-center that one-hopped the wall and resulted in a two-run double, making it 10-0.
Heritage finished with six errors, and Johnson lauded his team's ability to execute one of its five pillars of success this season -- forcing failure.
"We're going to put it in play and make them do it. We were doing that against Heritage, and we have been doing it this season. I think that'll be one of our identities -- being opportunistic," Johnson said. "We're going to put the ball in play, we're going to make people make decisions, make catches, make throws. I like our chances when we do that."
The Trojans extended their lead in the third inning on Garrett Madilak's RBI single through the hole on the left side of the infield. They then put the game away in the fourth, plating four runs to put the run rule into effect and seal the victory.
Northgate 3, Carrollton 2
The Trojans capitalized on forced errors against the Generals in Game 1, but the script was flipped in their duel with the Vikings later in the day as they committed four gaffes in the one-run loss.
"We made too many errors. It's real simple," Johnson said. "Eli [Runyan] pitched well enough to win, and I thought Samuel [Simpson] came in and pitched well enough to win, and our defense let us down. It's the first time it's happened this year, so it's not something we've experienced before."
Following three quiet innings at the plate for both clubs, Northgate lit up the scoreboard first in the fourth inning when Jake Queen ripped an RBI single up the middle to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead.
The Trojan offense remained stagnant for the next two innings but came to life in the sixth when Murray laced a one-out double to left that drove in the tying run. In the next at-bat, Madilak lifted a sacrifice fly to left-center that plated a run to make it 2-1.
Two outs away from securing the come-from-behind win, Carrollton allowed Dalton Brooks to reach base on a fielding error. Tanner Hughes, who served as a courtesy runner for Brooks, later made his way around the diamond and scored the tying run on the Trojans' second error of the inning.
The Vikings retook the lead during the next at-bat when Shawn Ragan took third base on a passed ball, inducing an errant throw from the Trojans that allowed him to trot home to make it 3-2.
Northgate retired the side in order in the seventh to cap off the victory.
Despite the loss, Johnson was still satisfied with the direction his club has proven to be trending through the first six games of the season.
"I was proud of the team," Johnson said. "We got down and it seemed like forever we were down 1-0, but in the sixth inning we scored two and put ourselves in position to win it, we just didn't. But we'll come back. This is not going to phase us."