Cougars nip Rockets for DRVC title

Friday, May 6, 2016
Conner Lewis winds up for a pitch versus the Cougars in the DRVC title game Thursday night at Liberty. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

Middle Tennessee Christian School has been a thorn in the side of the Forrest Middle School Rockets all season and the pain continued for FMS on Thursday night at Liberty as the two top seeds met in the Duck River Valley Conference championship game, won by the Cougars 3-2.

"We worked hard to get to this point and I'm really proud of our guys," FMS coach Chris Benne said. "The eighth grade group is a heck of a group of athletes and I wish we could have got it done."

MTCS had beaten FMS twice in the regular season to earn the top seed and FMS coach Chris Benne gave the Cougars the credit for winning the title game.

Spence Oliver went 1-for-2 with base on balls in the contest.

"It was a tough ballgame, a couple of hits here and there," Benne said. "That's a good ballclub over there and it was a great game played by them, so I'm happy with the way things went."

It was a pitcher's duel the entire game as FMS ace lefty Conner Lewis and Cougar Grant Tiller started on the hill.

Lewis went 3 2/3 innings for the Rockets, giving up two runs on five hits, while striking out three and walking one MTCS batter.

Tiller picked up the win, tossing five 1/3 innings of five-hit ball, also giving up two runs, while whiffing four and walking zero Rockets hitters.

Blaize Sweeney rips a double in the sixth inning versus MTCS.

FMS scored first, coming up with a first inning run when Cannon Cervantes banged a one-out double, went to third on a base hit by Blaize Sweeney and scored on an RBI fielder's choice by Carson Blackwell.

Lewis pitched scoreless ball for the first three innings and got some help keeping it that way in the bottom of the third inning when Cervantes gunned down a Cougar runner trying to score from third base on a fly ball to center field.

Tiller escaped a two-on, two-out jam in the top of the fourth inning and in the home half of the frame, MTCS broke through with two runs on an infield single by Matthew George that scored runners that were on second and third base with two outs.

Tiller set down the Rockets in order in the top of the fifth inning and MTCS made it a 3-1 contest when Ben Durham slammed a ground-rule double that scored Brayden Smith, who was hit by a pitch and stole second base.

Cody Sisk drills an RBI single in the sixth that made it a 3-2 ballgame.

FMS came back in the top of the sixth inning on an RBI base knock by Cody Sisk, but the Cougars got out of the inning on a ground ball to Smith at shortstop.

Sisk came to the hill and pitched a scoreless bottom of the sixth, but the Rockets title hopes ended when they went down 1-2-3 in the seventh inning.

"We are both good teams, that was the way it was meant to be, it was just a couple of little plays we could have cleaned up that made the difference," Benne said. "It is a great time to be a Rocket and a great time to be a Cougar. It was one of the best played middle school games in the state, they are a great team, but so are we. It was a great situation and a great tournament here at Liberty."

Forrest finished the season with a 14-5 record.

All-DRVC selections from FMS are from left, Conner Lewis, Cody Sisk and Blaize Sweeney.

Forrest 100 001 0-2 6 1

MTCS 000 201 X-3 7 1

Forrest: Baize Sweeney 2-for-3, Cody Sisk 2-for-3, Cannon Cervantes 1-for-3, Spence Oliver 1-for-3

RS: Cervantes, Sweeney

2B: Sweeney

RBI: Carson Blackwell, Sisk

FC: Blackwell

BB: Oliver

MTCS: Ben Durham 2-for-2, Jordan Davenport 2-for-3, Mason Price 1-for-3, Gavin Wallace 1-for-2, Matthew George 1-for-3

RS: Braden Smith, Wallace, Brock Culpepper

2B: Durham

RBI: George 2, Durham

HBP: Smith, Durham

SB: Smith

BB: Grant Tiller

WP: Grant Tiller (5.1IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 4K, 0BB)

Hold: JD McCracken (.2IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 0K, 1BB)

Save: Ben Durham (1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0K, 0BB)

LP: Conner Lewis (3.2IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 3K, 1BB), Blaize Sweeney (1.1IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 2K, 1BB), Cody Sisk (1IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1K, 0BB)