FMS Rockets one win from conference title

Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Blake Leonard slams the game winning two-run double in the bottom of the 7th inning, giving Forrest a 3-2 win over Cascade in a winner's bracket contest at the Big South Middle School Conference Tournament in Chapel Hill Tuesday night. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The magical mystery tour continued Tuesday night in Chapel Hill at the Big South Conference Tournament for the FMS Rockets as they staged a dramatic seventh inning comeback to defeat arch rival Cascade 3-2 in a winner's bracket game.

Blake Leonard's game winning two run double gave Forrest the triumph after the Champions had overtaken the Rockets 2-1 in the top of the seventh.

"That was as about exciting as it can get," said FMS head coach Randy Gaskill. "The boys, they showed me something. They won't quit, they won't quit. They had their ace on the mound and we battled back and got the big hit. I give them all the credit in the world. I just put them out there and they have to do it."

Forrest sits in the cat bird seat as the only undefeated team remaining in the double elimination formatted tournament and will play for the title Thursday night at 7:00 pm versus the winner of the Cascade/Community elimination game at 5:00.

Community defeated Lincoln County 9-6 Tuesday for the right to appear in the Bedford County battle.

Leonard started on the hill for the Rockets and hit the first Cascade batter in the top of the first before an outfield out turned into a double play for the Rockets and Leonard escaped unscathed.

Cascade starter Thomas Lindeman set down FMS 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first.

Nolan Barnes doubled leading off the second, but once again a base running mistake cost the Champions on another double play started with a catch in center field by Jacob Daughrity.

Lenard got out of it again and the two pitchers took control until Forrest took the lead in the bottom of the fourth.

Logan Hollingsworth gave FMS a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning with an RBI single to center that scored Tanner Garvin.

Back-to-back one out walks to Tanner Garvin and Lucas Pruitt set up a Logan Hollingsworth RBI single to center with two outs, giving FMS a one run lead.

Leonard gave up a two-out triple to Lindeman in the fifth, but got out of trouble when Caleb Keller snared a hard liner at second to retire the side.

Forrest loaded the bases on walks with one out in the home half of the fifth before Chase Carter came in from the Cascade bullpen to quell the threat.

Leonard walked the first batter in the top of the sixth and Gaskill called on Daughrity to come in to relieve Leonard on the mound.

Barnes bounced an infield single and then Cascade got fortunate when Forrest had a man trapped in a rundown, but could not get the out and the bases were loaded with no outs, setting up a potential big inning for the Wartrace bunch.

Carter tied the game on an RBI's fielder's choice, but Daughrity put on a Houdini act, striking out the next two Champion batters before escaping with just a tie on a grounder to Garvin at first base.

Carter retired the Rockets 1-2-3 in the bottom of the sixth, sending the game to the last inning.

Austin Smith drew a leadoff walk in the frame and stole second.

Daughrity got the next two outs before Cascade took a one run lead on a blooper to center by Barnes.

Daughrity helped his own cause, leading off the home half of the seventh with a hustle single to first on a ground ball.

Daughrity swiped second and went to third with the potential tying run on a wild pitch.

Logan Cunningham got nicked by a Carter pitch, making it first and third.

The Rockets mob Blake Leonard up the third base line after Leonard drove home the game winning runs in the bottom of the 7th inning for the FMS, who will play for the Big South Conference title Thursday night in Chapel Hill at 7:00 pm.

Austin Harber worked a walk, loading the sacks for Leonard, who drilled a shot down the leftfield line, scoring both Daughrity and Cunningham for the win.

Logan Cunningham knows it's over and so does the Cascade third baseman as Cunningham rounds third and heads for home with the game winning run.

The Rockets celebrated the win, but Gaskill was cautious after the game saying, "It's not over, it's not over. You have seen the pitching they got. Both Community and Cascade have the pitching, but the good thing is they are going to have to use some of it up now."