FMS Rockets survive first-round scare

Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Alex Brewer gets some congratulations from Landon Jones after the Rockets survived a scare from Cascade Saturday night in a Mid-South Conference Tournament, first-round 9-8 extra inning win over the Champions. Photos by Anthony S. Puca

The number-one seeded FMS Rockets looked like they were going to cruise to an easy first round Mid-South Conference Tournament win, leading 3-1 through five innings before the Cascade Champions dug in, taking the lead twice over the next three innings before Forrest prevailed 9-8 in eight innings.

"We didn't fold whenever the time came to it," said FMS head coach Bart Joyce. "We stepped up and got the runs in the places we needed it. Down one, down two runs, we came back and finally stepped up here in the eighth inning and got it done."

Crucial moments

Boone Sweeney bashes an RBI base hit versus Cascade.

Alex Brewer started on the hill for FMS, putting in four innings of shut-out, no-hit work, but had to pitch his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the third and a second-and-third situation in second inning, escaping both times on inning-ending strikeouts.

After a 1-2-3 fourth, Brewer (seven strikeouts, one hit batsman, four walks) left in the top of the fifth, leading 3-0 and Cascade still hitless.

Forrest put up a single run in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Landon Jones.

In the bottom of the third, Brewer knocked in Jacob Jones, who had singled and stole second, making it 2-0 and moments later Bryce Oliver was beaned with the bases loaded before Cascade turned a 5-2-3 double play to get out of the inning, trailing 3-0.

Ryan Yelensky came to the hill for FMS in the fifth and with one out, Chandler Sulcer got the first Cascade hit with a double to left field and Austin Gentry knocked him home with an RBI base knock to left.

Cascade attacks

With two down in the top of the sixth, the Rockets let an easy pop-up drop to the dirt, setting up the Champions' comeback inning.

Trent Sutton singled and Kevin Patton walked after the FMS miscue to load the bases before Sulcer tied the game with a two-run double and Gentry put the Rockets in a 5-3 hole with a two-run single to center.

Forrest erased the two-run deficit with a four-run bottom of the frame on a pair of RBIs from Jones and Boone Sweeney and a couple of errors on Cascade.

Seth Gardner led off the Cascade seventh with a base hit, stole second and scored one batter later on a Shane Keel hit to center and a bobble on the play that allowed Gardner to score.

Keel went to second on the play and rounded third and headed home to tie the game on a Brady Parker base hit to right.

Yelensky would get out the jam on a nice catch by first baseman Jesse Pruitt in foul territory.

Extra innings

Gardner, who came to the hill for Sutton in the sixth, set down the Rockets 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh to send the contest to extra innings.

Another two out error by the Rockets on an infield pop-up put Caleb Smith on first base before Gardner singled to right field, putting Cascade runners on the corners.

"I just hate when we make foolish mistakes, just standing there and letting a pop-up fall between us, but we overcame it and we got it done when we needed it and got the win," said Joyce.

A wild pitch sent Smith home with the go-ahead run before Yelensky struck out Lane Simpson to end the inning.

Yelensky drilled a double into the left field gap, leading off the home half of the eighth and Brewer followed with an RBI triple to the fence in right, tying the contest at eight.

One pitch later, the three-hour marathon ended when Brewer scampered home a wild pitch, sending Cascade to the loser's bracket versus Westwood and Forrest (16-3) to the winner's bracket versus Community.

Forrest beat the Vikings 9-1 on Tuesday and will play the Champions Wednesday night for the upper half of the Mid-South Conference bracket title.

The winner of the game will face the other half of the bracket (RCA, Lincoln County, Liberty, Huntland, and Fayetteville) for the conference championship on Monday.