Rockets look toward 9-A preparation
The Forrest Rockets did some more preparation for District 9-A play and gained valuable on the field experience over the weekend, competing in the Warrior Classic where they posted a 1-2 record.
After a rainout on Thursday night, the Rockets opened up tournament play Friday night at Wilson Central with a 5-1 loss to Briarcrest Christian School from Memphis.
Forrest faced a tough task in junior lefthander Hugh Fisher, who has committed to play at Vanderbilt University.
"Briarcrest had a great ball team," Forrest coach Bart Joyce said. "They threw a left handed pitcher (Fisher) that was good and versus a team like that you can't make mistakes. We didn't make many mistakes, but in a game like that just one can be costly."
The Rockets touched Fisher for a first inning run when Austin Welty drew a one out walk and fellow Vandy commit Alex Brewer drilled a double in the left/center field gap, driving in Welty to make it 1-0.
Freshman Ethan Mealer started on the hill for the Rockets and turned in a great effort, giving up just two hits in 4 1/3 innings of work.
"Mealer threw an excellent game and he has really worked hard and has had several good outings," Joyce said. "A solid number two and three is really big especially when we get into tournament time."
Briarcrest tied the game on an unearned run in the top of third inning and took the lead on an RBI sacrifice fly by Christian Sutterhill in the top of the fourth inning.
Meanwhile, Fisher gave up a leadoff single to Slayton Wild in the bottom of the second inning and that would be the last hit allowed by the Knight's ace in the contest.
Forrest threatened in the bottom of the fourth inning when Landen Jones walked to lead off the frame and Boone Sweeney reached on an error.
Fisher quickly extinguished the threat, striking out the next two Forrest batters before the inning ended on a groundout.
Briarcrest added two runs on one hit in the fifth inning and tallied its final run in the top of the seventh on an RBI base knock by Parker Jordan.
Fisher retired Brewer to lead off the bottom of the sixth before being relieved by Jack Anderson, who recorded the next two outs, sending the game to the seventh inning.
Fisher struck out 14 Rockets' batters in the contest and walked three.
Forrest came up with a mini-threat in its final at bat as Jonathan Lykins and Ryan Yelensky walked, but a game ending strikeout finished off the Rockets.
Mealer gave up two earned runs and struck out three and issued two bases on balls.
On Saturday, Forrest played a twin bill at Smyrna, taking on Loretto in the first game of the doubleheader and the Rockets jumped on the Mustangs early in a big 7-1 win.
"The team bounced back versus Loretto and played well," Joyce said. "Our bats came alive this game and we got back on track."
Lykins started on the mound for the Rockets and got some defensive help in the top of the first inning when he allowed back-to-back two out hits before a 4-6-3 double play ended the inning.
Lykins would pick up the win for the Rockets, giving up one run on six hits, while striking out five and walking one Mustang batter in 5 1/3 innings of work.
"Lykins threw excellent and along with the team effort at the plate and in the field, got us a big win," Joyce said.
Landen Jones drove in a first inning run for Forrest and the Rockets busted the game open in the bottom of the third inning, scoring four times to take a commanding 5-0 lead.
Jacob Jones, Landen Jones (2RBI) and Ryan Yelensky all had two hits apiece in the contest, while Brewer (RBI) and Boone Sweeney (2RBI) had one hit and drove in two runs each.
Dustin Brashear finished up on the hill for the Rockets, tossing two thirds of an inning of no-hit, no-run baseball and he also drove home a run with an RBI fielder's choice.
In their final game of the tournament, the Rockets took on the host Bulldogs and lost 4-3 after squandering an early 3-0 lead.
Jordan Jent started on the mound for Forrest, but it was only some limbering up for the junior righty as he threw just 20 pitches before giving way to Brashear with two outs and two on in the first inning.
Brashear got a fly ball to end the inning and went on to turn in a solid effort, pitching four innings, giving up two earned runs on three hits and striking out one and walking one in the no-decision.
Forrest opened the scoring in the top of the third inning, scoring on an RBI single by Yelensky and a run-scoring triple by Brewer.
Luke Cunningham made it 3-0 with an RBI fielder's choice in the top of the fourth inning.
The Bulldogs came back with two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and in the bottom of the sixth, the tying run came home on a Forrest error before Dayton Sanders knocked in the eventual game winner for Smyrna as the Rockets went down 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh.
"That was just one of those games where we fell just a little short," Joyce said.
Big games ahead
The defending District 9-A champion Rockets will have to use all their depth as they move forward with 10 out of their last 16 games versus league opponents.
"I have a tremendous amount of faith in this team that we will bounce back in these big district games coming up," Joyce stated.
Briarcrest 001 120 1-5 3 1
Forrest 100 000 0-1 2 2
Briarcrest: Justin Mask 1-3, Parker Jordan 1-4, Christian Sutterhill 1-3.
RBI: Mask 1, Jordan 1, Sutterhill 1, Conner Shamblin 1.
Forrest: Alex Brewer 1-3, Slayton Wild 1-3.
RBI: Brewer 1.
WP: Hugh Fisher (5.1IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 14K, 3BB)
Save: Jack Anderson (1.2IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 2K, 1BB)
LP: Ethan Mealer (4.1IP, 2H, 4R, 2ER, 3K, 2BB), Alex Brewer (2.2IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 5K, 3BB)
Loretto 000 010 0-1 7 4
Forrest 104 200 X-7 8 2
Loretto: Jacob Hallmark 2-3, Jacob Laws 2-3, Kendall Franklin 1-4, Ryan Weathers 1-4, Jason Sharpton 1-1.
Forrest: Jacob Jones 2-4, Landen Jones 2-4, Ryan Yelensky 2-3, Alex Brewer 1-3, Boone Sweeney 1-3.
RBI: Boone Sweeney 2, Landen Jones 2, Alex Brewer 1, Dustin Brashear 1.
WP: Jonathan Lykins (5.1IP, 6H, 1R, 1ER, 5K, 1BB), Dustin Brashear (.2IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 0K, 0BB)
LP: Kendall Franklin
Forrest: 002 100 0-3 6 2
Smyrna: 000 022 X-4 7 0
Forrest: Ryan Yelensky 3-4, Kain Harrison 2-3, Alex Brewer 1-3.
3B: Harrison, Brewer
RBI: Brewer 1, Harrison 1, Luke Cunningham 1.
Smyrna: Nathan Sanders 2-3, Dayton Sanders 2-3, Kendall Miller 1-4, Tyler Wagner 1-2, Trey Wilder 1-1.
RBI: Miller 1, Wagner 1, Dayton Sanders 1.
LP: Bryce Oliver (1.1IP, 3H, 2R, 0ER, 0K, 0BB), Jordan Jent (.2IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1K, 2BB), Dustin Brashear (4IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 1K, 1BB)