Friday, May 6, 2016
Forrest celebrated senior night before the game Tuesday and from left is, coach Andy Burkett, Boone Sweeney, Bryce Oliver, Landon Jones, Alex Brewer, head coach Bart Joyce, Ryan Yelensky, Austin Welty, Peyton Sisk, Kain Harrison and coach Steve Fletcher. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

Forrest roars back in 7th to finish undefeated in 9A

10 years ago, Forrest went undefeated in District 9A regular season play and came within one win of capturing a state tournament title.

On Tuesday night at Chapel Hill, the Rockets (20-5, 12-0) pulled off a dramatic seventh inning comeback, beating MTCS 6-5 on senior night to wrap up a perfect regular season record, becoming the first District 9A team to accomplish the feat since Cascade in 2008.

Brewing up wins

"It's amazing," said Vanderbilt signee Alex Brewer. "We are on a good winning streak right now and hopefully we can get our bats back from a couple of games ago. We are grinders, we are not going to bow down, sometimes we put our heads down in a game, but at the end of the day, we will tough it out."

Johnny "Baseball" Lykins delivers the game winning hit in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Johnny "Baseball" Lykins was the final hero among many in the contest, coming up with a one-out walk off single that scored Brewer, who had tied the game with a base hit three batters earlier.

"I was just trying to get contact on the ball and hit it backside and get the run in," Lykins said. "It just shows how strong we are and how competitive we can get when we are down in the game and have to fight back."

Brewer also picked up the win on the mound for the Rockets as he came on in relief with two-on and one-out in the top of the seventh, striking out both Cougar batters he faced to stop the MTCS rally.

Fired up

"That was a big hit by Brewer there in the seventh inning, I thought once he got going, the whole team got going and got them all fired up," Forrest coach Bart Joyce said. "And Johnny, he is just that guy, he is going to pound the middle of the field and get base hits and tonight he got the game winning RBI."

MTCS (6-23, 2-10) gave Forrest all they had, banging out 13 hits in the game with Jared Smith leading the way with a 3-for-4 effort at the plate.

Lykins started on the mound for the Rockets and went five innings, giving up four runs (3 earned) on 10 hits, while striking out two and walking none before leaving the game with two-on and no outs in the top of the fifth inning.

The Cougars rallied as Jordan Jent came in the game, scoring three times in the frame to take a 5-3 lead.

Edging ahead

The game was tied 2-2 entering the bottom of the fourth inning when the Rockets went in front 3-2 as Dustin Brashear led off with a base hit and was sacrificed to second by senior Bryce Oliver and one out later, senior Ryan Yelensky banged an RBI single up the middle.

The Cougars were in comeback mode the entire game and in the top of the fifth it looked like they would tie the game when Grant Pickard reached on a one-out error, went to second on a fielder's choice and raced around third, heading home on a base hit by Taylor Gardner to center field.

Forrest senior center fielder Ryan Yelensky runs off the field to his teammates after gunning down an MTCS runner at home in the fifth inning.

Yelensky fielded the ball perfectly and came up throwing, gunning down Gardner on a close play at home.

Forrest could not capitalize on the momentum and went down 1-2-3 in the home half of the fifth inning.

Comeback begins

After the Cougars scored three runs in the sixth, Forrest got an unearned run in the bottom of the inning, cutting the MTCS lead to one run at 5-4.

Senior Alex Brewer came on to earn the win for the Rockets, striking out both batters he faced in the top of the seventh inning.

Brewer's two strikeouts to shut the door in the top of the seventh paved the way for Forrest's comeback win, marking 14 consecutive wins for the Rockets to end the regular season.

"The thing I saw in the boys tonight was the fight," Forrest coach Bart Joyce said. "That is one of the tighter games we have been down in and been in late in the game and the boys did not give up, they just continued to fight."

Next: Tournament

The Rockets are the top seed and will have home field advantage for the entire District 9A Tournament that begins on Friday at Forrest.

"I'm very proud of this team, they are like my brothers and I'm just proud of the way we fought back tonight," Lykins said.

The Rockets earned a first-round bye and will play Saturday at noon.

"It's like I told the boys, in the post-season everybody comes to play, everybody steps it up one notch," Joyce said. "Any team can beat anybody on every given day, we have seen it time and time again in the postseason where you don't play for tomorrow---you play for the moment."

MTCS 011 003 0-5 13 3

Forrest 110 101 2-6 9 3

MTCS: Jared Smith 3-for-4, Josh Letzler 2-for-5, Brayden Melton 2-for-4, Taylor Garner 2-for-4, Jared Keiser 2-for-3, Parker Bates 1-for-5, Grant Pickard 1-for-4

RS: Picard, Garner, Keiser, Smith, Chase Traynor

2B: Jared Smith

RBI: Bates 2, Letzler, Jared Smith

SAC: Keiser

FC: Letzler, Bates, Traynor

SB: Pickard

CS: Letzler

Forrest: Jonathan Lykins 3-for-4, Ryan Yelensky 2-for-4, Bryce Oliver 2-for-2, Alex Brewer 1-for-4, Dustin Brashear 1-for-2

RS: Yelensky, Austin Welty, Brewer, Michael Dyer, Lykins, Brashear

RBI: Oliver, Lykins, Brewer, Yelensky

SAC: Oliver, Jordan Jent

FC: Yelensky

SB: Yelensky 3, Dyer 2, Welty 2, Jacob Jones, Brewer

WP: Alex Brewer (.2IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 2K, 0BB), Jonathan Lykins (5IP, 10H, 4R, 3ER, 2K, 0BB), Jordan Jent (1.1IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 2K, 0BB)

LP: Trey McCracken