By Doug Gorman
The Don Corr era lives on at Jonesboro.
After dropping the first game 1-0, the Cardinals came back in the nightcap to beat Ringgold 9-6 in the opening round of the Class AAAA state tournament at Jonesboro.
Splitting the series assures veteran Jonesboro coach Don Corr will be in the Cardinals' dugout for at least one more game. The long-time Jonesboro coach is moving to Etowah High School next year to become an assistant principal and athletic director.
Friday's doubleheader was a contrast in styles, as game one turned into an old-fashioned pitchers' duel, while the second contest was a slugfest.
The two teams will play the third and deciding game Saturday at 4 p.m., back at Jonesboro.
"I am really proud of the guys," said Corr. "They did a great job of bouncing back in the second game. "Now, it comes down to just one contest tomorrow."
Game one: Ringgold junior Kyle Heckathorn did a little bit of everything for the Tigers en route to the 1-0 victory.
In addition to striking out 13 Jonesboro batters, he also contributed the only bit of offensive for either team, smashing a solo home run in the sixth inning.
The home run pitch was the only mistake Jonesboro starting pitcher Frankie Crawley made in the game. The senior allowed just seven hits and began the game by retiring the first eight batters he faced.
Offensively Jonesboro had its chances early. Harold Walker doubled in the first, and Cullen Clemons singled in the second, but both runners were left on base.
The Cardinals also put the first two runners on base in the third when Harry Nutter beat out an infield hit and Kyle Ginn reached on an error.
Heckathorn struck out six batters through the next three innings. Jonesboro tried to rally in the seventh when Kyle Henderson doubled to start the seventh and Nutter was intentionally walked with two outs, but the game ended when Heckathorn recorded the 13th strikeout of the game.
Game two: Jonesboro didn't waste any time waking up its offense in the second contest. As the visiting team on the scoreboard in the late game , the Cardinals took a 2-0 lead on Bernd Toro's two-run homer.
Although Jonesboro had to hold off a couple of Ringgold rallies, the first-inning homer served as a springboard for the Cardinals.
Jonesboro pounded out nine hits, but it was also the team's defense that helped push the Cardinals into a second game.
With his team leading 5-2 in the fifth inning, Jonesboro third baseman Brett Stuart came up with the play of the game when he snagged Heckathorn's line drive down the third base line, drove bag to the bag and doubled up the Tigers' base runner who was picked off third base.
In the third inning, Jonesboro built a 5-0 lead by scoring three runs. The big blow of the game was an RBI single from Harold Walker.
Ringgold's Tyler Covington and Philip Arthur hit back-to-back homers to cut the lead to 5-2 in the fourth. Walker doubled and scored on Clemons base hit.
Jonesboro added two more runs in the sixth on Nutters double. The Cardinals closed out their scoring with a run in the seventh.