Rockets 1 win away from title

Friday, April 18, 2014
Austin Harber (6) avoids the tag of Fayetteville's Kylar Gentry (10) and scores the opening run on a passed ball. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

Because of unplayable field conditions in Fayetteville, the Tigers agreed to play the second game of the home and away series with Forrest in Chapel Hill Tuesday night and the Rockets continued their torrid offensive output, run-ruling Fayetteville 12-1 in six innings.

"We have been hitting the ball lately and we continued to do so," said Forrest head coach Chris Parker. "Fayetteville has some good athletes, we just put the bat on it a few more times than they did."

Just one more win

With the victory over Fayetteville, Forrest (18-6, 8-1) is one league win away from claiming their first regular season District 9-A title under Parker.

The Rockets will get a chance to clinch on Monday when they host second place Community (12-10, 7-2) at 6 p.m.

"We are very excited," said Parker. "It just shows how hard these boys have worked. But the main thing is to get at least a split and win it because it get us the advantage of playing at "The Hill" and a No. 1 seed."

Forrest swatted a dozen hits versus the Tigers with Austin Harber (4-4, 3RS, 2SB) becoming the second Rocket in two nights to accomplish the perfect 4-4 slate at the plate.

Winning pitcher

Kennedy Mathis (22) twists off a curveball to end the second inning with a strikeout. Mathis picked up the complete game victory Tuesday as the Rockets beat Fayetteville 12-1 in Chapel Hill.

Kennedy Mathis went the distance on the hill for the Rockets and picked up his fifth win of the season against just one loss.

Mathis was in control the entire game, surrendering no earned on four hits, while walking none and striking out four Tiger batters as the senior hurler threw 65 pitches with 47 of the tosses going for strikes.

"Kennedy was very solid, at times his curve and change where very good," said Parker. "He has been working hard on those. With him being tall and having a high arm angle it is tough on hitters."

The Rockets batted first and Alex Brewer worked a one-out walk and Tanner Garvin reached on a Fayetteville error, putting runners on second and third before Landon Jones came up with a sacrifice fly to open up the scoring.

Ryan Yates reached on a Forrest error to lead off the bottom of the inning, but was gunned down at second by Harber, trying to steal.

Sean Hall followed with a single, but Mathis retired the next two Tiger batters on a pair of ground balls to end the inning.

Five runs

In the top of the second, Forrest upped the ante, scoring five runs as Harber led off with a base hit, stole second, went to third on a Mathis grounder to the right side and scored on a passed ball, making it 2-0.

Jacob Jones (21) lays down a bunt for a base hit in the Rockets' five-run second inning.

Boone Sweeney followed with a base hit and Jacob Jones beat out a bunt before Daughrity reached on a Fayetteville miscue to load the bases.

Alex Brewer knocked in Sweeney with a sacrifice fly and Tanner Garvin made it a 5-0 ballgame with a two-run single to leftfield.

Mathis had little trouble in the bottom of the inning and ended the frame with a strikeout on a nasty curveball.

Harber manufactured a small-ball run in the top of the third when he banged a one out single, stole second and third and scored on one of 10 Fayetteville errors in the contest.

The bottom of the inning ended the same way the previous one did as Mathis twisted off another breaking ball to end the frame on a Tiger whiff.

Logan Hollingsworth and Harber added RBI base knocks in the top of the fourth to put the Rockets up 8-0 and in the top of the fifth, Mathis ended his third inning in a row with strikeout.

Final innings

There was no scoring in the fifth inning, but in the top of the sixth, the Rockets scored three times, including an RBI base hit by Caleb Keller to go up 12-0 and invoke the run-rule if they could get Fayetteville out in the bottom of the inning without scoring three times.

The Tigers did come up with an unearned run before the game ended on a 4-6-3 double play.

Sweeney (2-3, 2RS, BB) had two hits for Forrest, while Jacob Daughrity (1-4, SB), Brewer (1-1, RS, RBI, 2BB), Garvin (1-3, 2RBIs), Hollingsworth (1-3, RBI), Mathis (1-3, HBP), Jacob Jones (1-2, RS) and Keller (1-2, RBI) all had one hit apiece in the contest.

The Rockets will travel to the Creekwood Great Day to Play Classic this weekend where they will play the Red Hawks (17-6) and Rossview (10-9-1) on Friday, before games with Dickson County (4-17) and Clarksville Northeast (17-5-1) on Saturday.

"This weekend we will play one at a time," said Parker. "We are playing some very tough, well-coached teams, all being AAA with the exception of Creekwood being AA. Playing all four will help us prepare for next week and the tournament."