Rockets slip past Bulldogs

Friday, April 27, 2012
Forrest pitcher Tanner Garvin throws out Cornersville's Matt Callender at first base in the bottom of the third inning after fielding a bunt. Photos by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

The Forrest Rockets (13-11) got the better of county rival Cornersville for the second time this season when they squeaked out a 3-2 road victory over the Bulldogs on Wednesday afternoon.

Having defeated Cornersville 13-0 on April 7, the Rockets had a much tougher time with the Bulldogs (9-13-1) this time around, as the two teams battled to a 2-2 tie through the first six innings of play.

Forrest then broke the deadlock by pushing across a run in the top of the seventh inning before staving off a Cornersville rally attempt in the bottom half of the frame to hold on for the victory.

Cornersville third baseman Zach Richards tags out Forrest's Austin Harmon to complete a 9-5 double play in the top of the second inning after receiving a throw from right fielder Jody Sullivan.

Although the Rockets were aided by five hit batsmen and two Bulldog errors, FHS finished with only six hits and two walks against two Cornersville pitchers and left 10 runners on base overall.

"We had a whole lot of folks in scoring position, but didn't get them in," said Forrest coach Babe Hardison. "We hit some balls on the nose, but they went right to people. That's the way it works sometimes. We kept scratching though and pulled out the win."

Zach Horvath accounted for half of the Rockets' hits by going 3-for-3 with a double, a triple, and two runs scored. Austin Harbor, Zach Brewer (1 RBI), and Richard Hardin each had one hit for FHS as well.

The Bulldogs also failed to capitalize on several scoring opportunities and stranded 12 men on base in the contest despite tallying nine hits and two walks to go along with three Rocket errors.

"That's been our Achilles heel for the last two weeks. We get guys on, but can't get them in," said Cornersville coach Ben Putman. "We definitely played better than we did the first time we faced them because we didn't run out of pitching."

Tyler Lowery paced the Bulldogs at the plate by going 3-for-4 with two runs scored, while starting pitcher Cody Blackburn (1 RBI) and Jonathan Douglas both notched two hits. Andrew Giles and Jacob Griffis (1 RBI) each had a hit for CHS as well.

Brewer picked up the victory on the mound for the Rockets after coming on in relief of starting hurler Tanner Garvin, as he allowed two hits and a walk in two and two-third scoreless innings of work while registering five strikeouts. Garvin, meanwhile, yielded two runs on seven hits and a walk over four and one-third innings.

Blackburn turned in a solid pitching performance, but had to settle for the no decision after giving up two runs, only one earned, on four hits and a walk in five innings of work. Reliever Joe Stocstill suffered the loss and allowed a run on two hits and a walk.

Blackburn snuffed out Forrest scoring threats in each of the first two innings with the help of two double plays by his defense, before the Bulldogs grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second when Lowery came home on a RBI single by Griffis after reaching base on an infield single and stealing second.

In the top of the fourth, the Rockets pulled ahead 2-1 by pushing across two runs with the help of a leadoff double by Horvath, a Brewer walk, a CHS error, a hit batsman, and a sacrifice fly by Dillon Dowler.

Cornersville mounted an immediate response and tallied a run in the bottom half of the fourth to tie the game at 2-2. After Lowery and Giles both singled, Douglas legged out a bunt single to load the bases with no outs. Blackburn then slapped a two-out RBI single into left field to knock in Lowery.

Both teams were unable to cash in on scoring chances over the next two innings before Forrest took a 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh when Horvath raced home on Brewer RBI single after tripling down the left field line to start the frame.

The Bulldogs put runners at second and third with two outs in the bottom of the seventh on the strength of a FHS error and a single and a stolen base by Douglas, but Brewer struck out the next CHS batter to secure the Rockets' victory.