Rockets' magical playoff ride continues
Just a few weeks ago, the Forrest Rockets didn't seem to have any hope of post-season success until a coaching change brought Bart Joyce to the helm.
Since losing a double-header to Eagleville on April 14, the Rockets have won nine of ten games under Joyce, including four straight in the post-season with the latest a 6-5 win over District 10-A runners-up East Robertson Monday night in the Region 5-A Tournament opener in Chapel Hill.
"It was a battle to the last pitch," said Joyce. "We score three, they score three, we give up two and they came up with two until finally we got that last run."
Back to region
Now the red-hot Rockets are headed back to the region title game for the third year in a row, hosting Nashville Christian School tonight at 6 p.m.
Forrest will also play in Friday night's sectional round with the winner garnering a spot in the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) Spring Fling next week in Murfreesboro.
"We have a good opportunity in front of us here, and no doubt these boys will step up and come ready to fight on Wednesday," said Joyce.
There were plenty of heroes in Monday's back-and-forth contest, most notably Landen Jones, who banged the go-ahead single in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Three big runs
Boone Sweeney drove home three runs in the game to continue his RBI surge that has seen the Forrest catcher drive in 12 runs in four post-season games.
Alex Brewer also came up big for the Rockets, picking up the win on the mound after coming on for starter Logan Hollingsworth in the fifth inning.
"Logan just wasn't getting that low strike tonight, and any pitcher who was not getting that strike will struggle," said Joyce.
"But Brewer came on and did a great job; it was just a team effort all the way around tonight."
Brewer gave up two earned runs on three hits in three innings of relief, while striking out six and walking three.
"It wasn't my best showing, but I still closed it out and got the win and that's all that matters," said Brewer.
Forrest scored twice in the first inning before the Indians went ahead with three runs in the top of the third.
The Rockets took the lead again in the bottom of the fifth inning on a two-run single by Sweeney and a steal of home by Brewer on a run-down play.
East Robertson did not quit as it touched Brewer for a pair of runs in the top of the sixth, tying the game at 5-5 when Cody Ring ripped a two-out, two-run single off Brewer.
Tanner Garvin singled to left field, leading off the home half of the sixth and Kain Harrison came on to run for Garvin.
Harrison advanced to second on a Hollingsworth groundout before Jones belted a 1-0 pitch through the hole between third and short, scoring Harrison from third with the go-ahead run.
"My first two at-bats, I didn't do too good, but the last one I got focused and I told myself I'm going to hit the ball and get this run in," said Jones.
"It got through, and we got the 'W' and that's all that matters."
Brewer gave up a two-out walk to Matt Wix in the top of the seventh before catching Isaac
Howeth looking at a called third strike to end the game.
Forrest lost 2-1 to Community in last year's region final, but beat East Robertson 3-2 in a 2013 clash.
Mr. Baseball finalist
The Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association announced on Tuesday the first annual Mr. Baseball Award in each of the 5 classifications.
Forrest junior Alex Brewer, who has a verbal agreement to attend Vanderbilt University on a baseball scholarship upon graduation, is one of the three finalists for the award that will be presented on May 19th at Middle Tennessee State University before the start of the Spring Fling.
Brewer currently sports a .432 batting average, has scored 37 runs and has driven in 18 runs for the Rockets.
The other Class-A finalists are Chandler Adkins (Grace Christian Academy -- Knoxville) and Drew Hall (Goodpasture Christian School).
The three finalists in each class is chosen by a panel of high school coaches, college coaches and scouts.
The award winners are chosen for their athletic ability and for their outstanding character and academic achievements.
East Robertson 003 002 0--5 8 2
Forrest 200 031 x-----6 7 3
East Robertson: Cody Ring 2-for-3, Isaac Howeth 1-for-5, Lane Eden 1-for-4, R. Patterson 1-for-3, Luke Murphy 1-for-3, Seth Stroud 1-for-3, Chance Beck 1-for-3.
RBI: Ring 2, Stroud 1.
Forrest: Austin Welty 2-for-3, Tanner Garvin 2-for-3, Boone Sweeney 1-for-2, Logan Hollingsworth 1-for-3, Landen Jones 1-for-3.
RBI: Sweeney 3, Brewer 1, Jones 1.
WP: Alex Brewer
LP: Lane Eden