Rockets do the splits
The Forrest Rockets did the splits recently, putting up a 2-2 record over the weekend during the Marshall County Invitational Tournament before splitting a home and home series with the Middle Tennessee Christian School Cougars.
"The district games are what we are really worried about," said Forrest head coach Babe Hardison. "We played a good bit of competition this weekend, you don't expect to win all those ballgames when you are pitching down the line a little bit, but we beat a good Greenbrier team handily."
The Rockets dropped a pair of close games on Friday, falling 7-5 to Summertown and 10-9 to Murfreesboro Central Magnet School.
Forrest bounced back on Saturday, sweeping the final two games of the invitational with an 11-1 win over Greenbrier and a 13-0 blanking versus intra-county rival Cornersville.
On Monday night, the Rockets reached the .500 mark on the season (10-10) with a tough 4-1 win over the MTCS Cougars in Chapel Hill before dipping back below the even water mark, losing 5-0 at MTCS on Tuesday.
Forrest had early leads in both losses on Friday before succumbing late, but freshman Blake Leonard righted the rocket ship on Saturday, tossing a five-inning, two-hit complete game against Greenbrier.
The Bobcats scratched across a run in the top of the first inning versus Leonard before the Rockets exploded, scoring five runs in the home half of the inning.
Austin Harber led off the inning with a single before consecutive outs left Harber standing on the first base bag.
Back-to-back bases on balls to Paten Pruitt and Richard Hardin loaded the sacks for Ryan Daughrity, who drilled a two-run double to center, giving the Rockets a lead they would never surrender.
Leonard bought some self-insurance, knocking home two more Rockets with a base hit and Jacob Daughrity followed with another RBI base knock to extend the lead to 5-1.
While Leonard cruised along on the hill, Forrest scored once in the second inning, four times in the third, and made it a ten-run margin with a single run in the bottom of the fourth.
Leonard faced four Bobcat batters in the top of the fifth and the game ended on Greenbrier swinging strikeout.
Forrest took on a depleted Cornersville pitching staff in the final game Saturday, jumping on the Bulldogs early and often, beginning with three runs in the first inning on RBI base knocks from Brewer, Hardin, and Ryan Daughrity.
The Rockets put up a five-spot in the second with the big blow coming from Brewer, who smashed a three-run dinger.
Forrest added three more runs in the third and a deuce in the fourth before Zach Horvath closed the door in the fifth, retiring the side in order.
Kennedy Mathis started the game on the mound and picked up the win for the Rockets, tossing two-innings of hitless ball before Ryan Daughrity pitched the fourth and Horvath completed the shut-out in the fifth.
Forrest returned to District 9A play on Monday versus MTCS and Brewer hurled a gem on the mound, tossing a complete game, giving up zero earned runs on just two Cougar base hits, while whiffing 13, walking one and beaning one MTCS hitter.
"Brewer pitched a great game, he kept them off balance off night," said Hardison. "He has pitched a couple of good ballgames that we could have very easily have won."
The Cougars loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the first inning on a Forrest error, a base on balls, and a hit batsman before Brewer got out of the jam when he whiffed Peyton Buckner to end the threat.
MTCS starter Ivy Starling struck out the Rockets in order in the bottom of the first, and in the top of the second, the Cougars pushed across an unearned run to make it 1-0.
"Their pitcher pitched good, it took us a while to get to him, but they never did get to Brewer," said Hardison. "The kids are playing better for the most part."
Paten Pruitt walked to lead off the home half of the frame and two batters later, Ryan Daughrity bounced a ground rule double over the left field fence to put Rocket runners on second and third with one down.
Leonard and Jacob Daughrity followed with RBI base knocks, staking Brewer to a 2-1 lead.
Brewer was on target and strong, retiring the side in order over the next three innings, striking out six out of the nine Cougar hitters he faced in the stretch.
Horvath slashed a one-out single in the bottom of the fifth, went to second on a passed ball and scored on a Brewer single to make it 3-1.
In the sixth, Kyle Howard broke up the Brewer no-hitter with a single to center, but was left stranded.
Forrest tacked on an unearned run in the home half of the frame before Brewer struck-out three out of the four batters he faced in the top of the seventh to secure the win for the Rockets.
On Tuesday, MTCS shut-down the Forrest offense in a 5-0 shut-win as the Rockets managed just three hits and committed five errors on defense to drop to 10-11 on the season.
Forrest plays Columbia Academy at home on Thursday, entertains Summit on Saturday and comes back next week with a home and home series versus arch-rival Cascade, starting in Chapel Hill on Monday.