Red-hot Rockets capture district title
It was familiar turf for Forrest High School coach Bart Joyce, who guided many of the players on the current varsity squad to a Mid-South Conference Middle School title on the same field, against many of the same Huntland players, under the same circumstances, four years ago.
Winner take all was the name of the game for Forrest in Huntland on Tuesday night and the Rockets responded again for Joyce, who has now won his first five games as coach of the big team.
The Rockets (16-7, 9-3) broke a 4-4 tie in the fourth inning with four unanswered runs to win 8-4, capturing their second consecutive regular season crown.
"There have been so many times since I have been here where these kids have come up big, in big spots in big innings," said Joyce. "We are trying to keep that going, keep that filtered in to the tournament next week and it showed tonight in a tie ballgame when we got that big squeeze play and a big hit here and a big hit there."
Plus they get to take a game off with a first round bye in the upcoming district tournament, which will now have to go through Chapel Hill.
Jonathon Lykins came up huge for Forrest, going 3-for-5 at the plate, including a crucial suicide squeeze bunt with the bases loaded in the sixth inning that put the Rockets in front for good.
"Lykins is a young player, but plays like an old guy," said Joyce. "You can't say nothing more about the kid, he comes up big in pretty big situations and it's like I said, he is a young player that plays like an old one."
Lykins came back one inning later with bases juiced again and delivered a two-run single that sealed the deal.
Tanner Garvin picked up the win on the mound for Chapel Hill, giving up two earned runs on eight hits, while striking out seven and walking two Hornet hitters.
"Tanner was on the plate tonight, he was on and got the job done, like a senior should, " said Joyce. "He rose to the occasion and threw lights out and kept us in the ballgame the whole time, even when we were not getting hits, he would come back out and keep us where we wanted to be."
Austin Welty also had three hits in the game for Forrest, reaching base twice on picture perfect bunts and Rocket backstop Boone Sweeney had two hits and drove home a pair of runs in the triumph.
The District 9-A Tournament begins on Saturday.
"I told the boys a while ago that tournament time is like a new season, the records go back to zero-zero and everybody pulls out all the stops and just plays ball," said Joyce. "It doesn't matter what you did against anybody in the season because it is a new season in itself, so we will get back after it Saturday night."
Forrest 0130022--8 11 3
Huntland 2002000--4 8 6
Forrest: Jonathon Lykins 3-for-5, Austin Welty 3-for-5, Boone Sweeney 2-for-5, Logan Hollingsworth 1-for-4, Slayton Wild 1-for-4, Tanner Garvin 1-for-4.
Huntland: Kobe Foster 2-for-3, Evans Ray 2-for-4, Tyler Cates 1-for-3, Landen Morgan 1-for-3, Justin Sells 1-for-2.
WP: Tanner Garvin
LP: Tyler Cates
Forrest at Ravenwood April, 28
Forrest 0030000--3 5 4
Ravenwood 302022-----9 11 0
Forrest: Ryan Yelensky 1-for-3, Alex Brewer 1-for-3, Boone Sweeney 1-for-3, Landen Jones 1-for-3, Slayton Wild 1-for-2.
LP: Jonathon Lykins (2-2)