Jones seals 9-A title for Rockets

Friday, April 25, 2014
Landon Jones (10) came up huge for the Rockets in Thursday night's winner take all battle at Community, driving in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning. Photos by Anthony S. Puca

Forrest had their backs up against the wall in Thursday night's winner take all battle in Unionville, knotted in a 2-2 tie through five innings before Landon Jones delivered a clutch two-run single in the sixth that sealed their first regular season District 9-A crown since 2006 for the Rockets in a 4-3 win.

"These have been two good ballgames and we took care of business later in the year and we only needed to win one and we won a big over here today, like they did at our place on Monday," said Forrest head coach Chris Parker. "We did something special tonight that hasn't been done for a long time."

Solid pitching

Alex Brewer came in from the bullpen in relief of starter Kennedy Mathis and gave up an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth, but Brewer closed the door on Community in the seventh to pick up the win.

Kennedy Mathis (22) pitched five solid innings and held the Vikings at bay until the Rockets took the lead late and went on to win 4-3.

Mathis turned in a solid performance for the Rockets in the starting role, giving up two earned runs on five hits, while walking zero and striking out four Viking batters in five innings of work.

"Mathis was on me the whole time, I want to pitch against Community, I want to pitch against Community, so I gave the ball to him and he did an outstanding job, getting us to the sixth" said Parker. "And Brewer came in and closed the door and I am very proud of both of them."

Community struck first, turning a first-inning leadoff triple by Kyle Davidson into a run via a wild pitch.

Going ahead

Forrest left a couple of base runners on in the top of the second, but in the third inning the Rockets broke through, beginning with a leadoff single by Slayton Wild.

Jacob Daughrity sacrificed Wild to second before Community pitched around Brewer to get to Jones.

Brewer swiped second base moments later and Jones made the Vikings pay with an RBI base hit, putting the Rockets in front 2-1.

Logan Hollingsworth walked to load the bases and Brewer would trot home with run no. 3 for Forrest on a Community infield miscue.

Leading to stay

Viking starter Taylor Paschal erased any hope of a Forrest runaway when he retired the next two Rockets in order.

Darian Pride and Davidson stroked back-to-back singles, leading off the home half of the third, but a runner's interference call, followed by a pretty 4-6-3 double play squelched the threat.

Forrest left two on base again in the top of the fourth, and in the bottom of the inning Quinn Frost drilled a leadoff homerun, tying the game at 2-2.

Both hurlers set down the opposing squad 1-2-3 in the fifth and the game went to the sixth inning where Tanner Garvin got things going when he was drilled by a Paschal pitch.

Rockets score

A rope double by Wild to deep left put Rocket runners on second and third and chased Paschal off the mound as Dillion West came on in relief.

West struck out the next Forrest hitter for the second out before intentionally walking Brewer.

Jones did not back down, drilling a two-run laser to left field that put the Rockets in front 4-2.

"We called timeout there and I told him (Jones) that you have to protect your twin brother (Brewer), we put you here to protect him and if you square the ball up, we will see what happens and he did that twice tonight and that second one was big, huge," said Parker.

Viking threat

The Vikings still had some fight left in them as Davidson led off the bottom of the six with a base hit off Brewer.

Brewer struck out Paschal for the first out, but bobbled a ball hit back to the mound by Frost, putting Community runners on the corners with one out.

Davidson came home on a wild pitch and Frost wound up on third before a pair of groundouts ended the inning with the Rockets still holding the slimmest of margins.

West set down the Rockets 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh and a ground ball to Jonathan Lykins at short put the Rockets two-outs away from the title.

Battle ends

Brewer and Drake Shultz commenced into a 15-pitch battle before an apparent strikeout by Shultz was nullified on a phantom foul ball call and Shultz singled to right on the next pitch.

Brewer had seen enough, inducing the next two Community hitters into easy groundball outs to end the contest, giving Forrest the title and the all-important home field advantage throughout the District 9-A Tournament.

Boone Sweeny (25), who had two hits in the contest, bangs an opposite-field single in the second inning.

Jones (2-4, 3RBIs, SB), Wild (2-2, 2RS, sac bunt), and Boone Sweeney (2-4) had two hits apiece for the Rockets (23-7, 10-2), while Brewer (1-2, RS, 2BB, 2SB), and Garvin (1-2, RS, HBP) managed one base knock apiece.

Following tonight's Senior Night senior gala versus Columbia Central in Chapel Hill, the Rockets will make the return the trip to Columbia tomorrow.