Rockets shock Summertown on Brewer blast
Number two ranked Summertown seemed to be in a comfortable spot Friday night, playing at home versus Forrest in a Class-A state sectional game and the two-time state champion Eagles came within one out from earning another trip to Murfreesboro before destiny showed up in the evening's waning in Lawrence County in the name of Alex Brewer, who walloped a dramatic seventh inning three-run homerun into the western sky, giving the Rockets a 3-2 lead that held up.
"I will never forget that moment, never," said Brewer. "I was just hoping I would get up, people in the dugout told me to get up there and take a hack. Everyone's been seeing first pitch strike fastball, my first at bat I let it go by, and I knew I could hit his curveball because I hit that double, so I knew fastball was coming and I hit it. Just goes to show you, you can never take anything for granted, stuff can happen."
Back to state
Forrest (28-12) will be making their first state tournament appearance since 2006 when the Rockets finished in second place.
"This is just outstanding," said Forrest head coach Chris Parker. "This what we all work for, I am so proud of these boys for believing, playing hard, never giving up and everything like that and we are going to give all those private schools our best over there and bring another trophy back to Chapel Hill."
Chapel Hill starting pitcher Logan Hollingsworth, who gave up eight hits, struck out three and did not walk an Eagle batter in the contest, turned in a gutsy performance for the Rockets on the hill, picking up the title win for Forrest as the junior righty gave up two first inning runs before stymying the Eagles over the next 5 2/3 innings.
"I had to keep the ball down, I left it up that first inning and once I got it down, it was fine from there," said Hollingsworth. "I was confident when Daughrity came in, he has closed a lot of games for us."
Jacob Daughrity came on with one on and two outs in the bottom of seventh and issued a free pass to Bryce Giles before Daughrity struck out Nathaniel Morrison on a nasty curveball to end the game.
"I honestly tried to walk up there as slow as possible, I was guess I was ready, but I didn't get to warm up much in the bullpen because I was sitting there balling and crying after the homerun," said Daughrity. "We fell a little short last year, but I had a great feeling this year and to come over here and beat Summertown makes it even better."
Morrison was cruising on the mound for Summertown, giving up just one hit until the fateful seventh inning.
Morrison set down the Rockets 1-2-3 in the first inning before the Eagles scored twice in the home half of the inning on RBI base knocks by Austin Matthews and Quinton Crowell.
The Eagles' pitching staff was in a stingy mood coming into the contest, as their opponents had scored just a single run in five post season games, while the Summertown offense was red-hot, providing plenty of run support throughout their 30-win season.
Forrest left five runners on base over the first six innings with just two base runners reaching the third base bag and their lone hit coming on a one-out Brewer double in the third inning.
After the first inning, the Eagles would not get a runner past second base the remainder of the contest as Hollingsworth got in his groove by recording 1-2-3 innings in the second, fourth, and fifth frames, while allowing single base runners in the third and sixth.
"Talk about the definition of heart and battling that is what that young man (Hollingsworth) did," said Parker. "A lot of people would have folded, but we stuck with him, he found that change-up and started cutting the ball a little bit more and he kept us right there."
Morrison notched the first two outs of the seventh inning before Tanner Garvin kept the game alive when he drew a base on balls.
Austin Harmon came in to run for Garvin and wound up on second when Austin Harber slashed a single to left field.
Brewer stepped up to the dish with everyone standing and the only thing the packed house saw was Morrison's first pitch to Brewer exit the ballpark like a runaway rocket over the right/centerfield fence, sending the Forrest faithful into a wild frenzy as Brewer rounded the bases and was mobbed at home plate by his teammates.
"He's (Brewer) got a lot of talent, he matured and matured and matured as a hitter and gets better at every at bat," said Parker. "That is one for a young kid as a sophomore that he will never forget and I hope he has a lot more of those in him."
No rally allowed
Morrison and the Eagles were shaken as Slayton Wild reached on an error and Bryce Oliver followed with a base on balls before Morrison regained control and struck out the next Forrest batter to send the game to the final at bat for Summertown.
Hollingsworth dug in on the hill, recording the first two outs before Curt Ambrose notched a base hit to extend the game.
Parker called on the senior Daughrity, who walked Giles on a 3-2 pitch before whiffing Morrison to complete the miracle comeback for the Rockets, who will join North Greene, Knoxville Grace (24-12), Boyd Buchanan, Goodpasture (34-6), Scotts Hill, Jackson Christian (34-7), plus the winner of tonight's Community/Columbia Academy game in Murfreesboro next week for first-round state tournament action that will commence on Tuesday.