Rockets sweep Hornets, grab District 9-A lead
It's always a tough home and away series when Forrest and Huntland meet because of the distance between the two schools, the storied rivalry and the quality of baseball that both clubs perennially display.
On Monday at Franklin County, Forrest (9-5, 4-0) notched a big road win, beating Huntland ace lefty Kobe Foster 4-0 and the return trip to Chapel Hill was even sweeter on Tuesday as the Rockets completed the regular season sweep with a big 10-2 win over the Hornets.
"Huntland has a solid ball team, the Forrest and Huntland rivalry goes back several years and in any sport you're playing, they are always tough to beat," Forrest coach Bart Joyce said. "It was no different this week. Getting that sweep is huge for our ball club and it points us in the right direction for the rest of the season."
Foster has always been tough on the Rockets and the senior pitched well again on Monday, tossing all seven innings and giving up eights, while striking out 15 Forrest batters.
"Foster is a great pitcher," Joyce said. "He was on his game against us, striking out several of our batters. I was so proud of our guys in getting those timely hits and when he did make a mistake, we capitalized on it."
Outdueling Foster was Forrest senior Ryan Yelensky, who has gone up against the Huntland lefty many times during middle school and high school.
Yelensky threw six innings of four-hit, shutout ball, striking out 11 Hornets and walking juts two.
"Yelensky did an excellent job and I know he wanted that matchup with Foster," Joyce said. "They have had several matchups throughout the years, going all the way back to when they were in the seventh grade battling each other in the DRVC championship where we came out on top."
Alex Brewer came on for Yelensky and pitched a scoreless seventh, striking out three and giving up one hit in the last inning.
The Rockets jumped on top with two runs in the top of the second inning on an RBI double by Slayton Wild and squeeze bunt RBI by Jonathan Lykins.
With Yelensky in control on the mound, Forrest added another run in the fifth on a Boone Sweeney RBI base hit and the Rockets tallied their final run of the night on a seventh inning unearned run.
Tuesday's night's game at Chapel Hill wasn't as tight as Monday's tussle with the Rockets banging out 11 hits in the contest and giving Forrest starting pitcher Jordan Jent as nice 5-0 cushion after one inning of play.
Jent escaped a two-on, one-out jam in the top of the first inning before Forrest batted around in the home half of the frame and scored five runs on six hits with Brewer driving in two with a double.
Wild also doubled to score another teammate and Lykins and Luke Cunningham added an RBI.
There was no scoring over the next two innings before Huntland finally got on the board in the top of the fourth inning on an RBI infield single by Blake Haddom.
Jent escaped once again, inducing an inning ending pop-up to Brewer at short with the bases loaded.
"Jent has been a solid starter for us all year and he continues to get better," Joyce said. "He had a solid performance last night----he struggled at times, but still a good performance."
Sweeney knocked Brewer home in the bottom of the fourth, making it 6-1 and Mealer came on for Jent in the top of the fifth and did not allow a run, while striking out the last two batters in the inning.
"Those guys are in the middle of the order because of their power and their ability to drive in RBI," Joyce said. "Getting those runs in is very important. These guys work hard at their job and will continue to get better throughout the season."
Jacob Jones and Yelensky had RBI in the bottom of the fifth and Mealer struck out two more in a scoreless top of the sixth.
Forrest got production up and down the lineup as both Lykins and Cunningham knocked in another run each in the bottom of the sixth.
As the temperature dropped, Mealer got a little wild, walking two batters in the top of the seventh before slamming the door shut with a game ending strikeout.
"Mealer has been coming on strong since his first start also and the coaching staff is very excited about the pitching rotation this year and years to come," Joyce stated.
D9-A leading Forrest has two non-conference games before next week's crucial home and away series with second place Eagleville (11-6, 4-2) with Monday's game away and Tuesday's at Chapel Hill.
"I feel great about the team and the direction we are headed," Joyce said. "The players are working hard and come every day with purpose to get better. That's our main goal that we talk a lot about----getting better every day."
Monday, April 4 at Huntland
Forrest 020 010 1-4 8 4
Huntland 000 000 0-0 5 2
Forrest: Alex Brewer 2-4, Landen Jones 2-3, Boone Sweeney 1-4, Slayton Wild 1-4, Luke Cunningham 1-3, Austin Welty 1-2.
RBI: Sweeney 1, Wild 1, Lykins 1.
Huntland: Kobe Foster 1-4, Cody Daniels 1-4, Zach Stovall 1-3, Tyler Smith 1-3, Joe Dickson 1-3.
WP: Ryan Yelensky (6IP, 4H, 0R, 0ER, 11K, 2BB), Alex Brewer (1IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 3K, 0BB)
LP: Kobe Foster (7IP, 8H, 4R, 3ER, 15K, 2BB)
Tuesday, April 5 at Forrest
Huntland 000 100 1-2 7 2
Forrest 500 122 X-10 11 0
Huntland: Dalton Plemons 2-4, Kobe Foster 1-2, Blake Haddom 1-4, Cole Tate 1-3, Tyler Smith 1-3.
RBI: Plemons 1, Haddom 1.
Forrest: Jonathan Lykins 3-4, Alex Brewer 2-3, Jacob Jones 1-3, Ryan Yelensky 1-4, Landen Jones 1-2, Boone Sweeney 1-3, Slayton Wild 1-4, Luke Cunningham 1-4.
2B: Wild, Lykins, Brewer.
RBI: Lykins 2, Brewer 2, Cunningham 2, Jones 1, Sweeney 1, Wild 1, Yelensky 1.
WP: Jordan Jent (4IP, 6H, 1R, 1ER, 4K, 2BB), Ethan Mealer (3IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 5K, 4BB)
LP: Cody Daniels (6IP, 10R, 11H, 7ER, 3K, 5BB)