Rockets' bats carry the day

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Austin Welty executes the first of his two bunt singles in the contest. Photos by Anthony S. Puca

The top-seeded and seventh-ranked Forrest Rockets finally got a chance to play baseball after earning a first-round bye in the District 9-A Tournament, hosting Huntland Saturday afternoon.

The Hornets put up a good fight, climbing back from an early nine-run deficit before a second offensive blitz was too much to handle as Forrest ran away and hid via a 16-6 five inning, run-rule win.

"We got in a little trouble there with our pitching in one inning when we gave up a few runs," Forrest coach Bart Joyce said. "They had a few hits that fell right outside of gloves reach, so you can't do much about that."

15 for 15th

Forrest (21-5) banged out 15 hits in the contest to earn its 15th win in a row and stayed undefeated versus district opponents for the season.

"I was really pleased with the way we hit the ball, we got the bats fired up and had a huge second inning," Joyce said. "In the sixth we had another big inning, so I am really proud of how we produced at the plate today."

Ryan Yelensky, who started on the mound for the Rockets but struggled, made up for it in the batter's box, going 3-for-3 with 3RBI and a stolen base.

Yelensky picked up the win on the hill, lasting just over two innings before freshman Ethan Mealer came on to pitch scoreless ball the rest of the way.

Good hitting

Austin Welty (RS, RBI), Alex Brewer (3RS, SB)), Boone Sweeney (2RBI), Slayton Wild (2RS, RBI), and Bryce Oliver (2RBI) all had two hits apiece for the Rockets, while Jonathan Lykins (2RS, RBI) and Landon Jones (3RBI) had one base knock each.

Huntland standout Kobe Foster, who had two hits and drove home two runs for the Hornets scored a first inning run before Forrest came up with a three-spot in the bottom of the opening frame to take a lead they would never surrender.

Yelensky escaped a bases loaded jam unscathed in the top of the second and Forrest sent 13 batters to the plate in the home half of the frame and scored seven runs to make it a 10-1 ballgame.

Huntland answered the call in the top of the third inning as they banged five hits and were helped by a Yelensky base on balls and a hit batsman to cut the Forrest lead to 10-6, knocking the Forrest ace out of the box in the process.

Good opponent

"Coach Tipps runs a good solid program and they are fighters and scrappers and always hang in there," Joyce said. "They are a well-coached team, a well-disciplined team and they are a good ballclub, all the way around."

Mealer came on and gave up a hit to Foster that scored two Hornets, but that was the final runs the Franklin County squad would score the rest of the contest.

Forrest did not score in the home half of the third and Mealer set down Huntland 1-2-3 in the top of the fourth inning.

Forrest's Ryan Yelensky went 3-for-3 with 3RBI in the Rockets 16-6 run-rule win over Huntland in the District 9-A Tournament Saturday at Chapel Hill.

RBI by Yelensky and Welty in the bottom of the inning stretched the Forrest lead to 12-6 and after Mealer hit Huntland catcher Tyler Smith with a pitch to open the fifth, the freshman struck out the next two batters looking before a ground out to Brewer at shortstop ended the inning.

Turning it up

Lykins hit a laser line-out to begin the bottom of the inning before Brewer singled to right field.

Landon Jones followed with a base on balls and after a double steal, Sweeney was walked to load the bases, setting up Wild, who drilled a single to left field, scoring two runs to make it 14-6.

"We had a light bulb moment there when we said we better get going here," Joyce said. "They turned it on and answered the call."

Designated hitter Oliver, who has been swinging a hot bat, hit the next pitch into the left/center field gap for the walk off clincher, sending the Rockets to a winner's bracket match-up versus Eagleville.

"We will sit back and do some scouting on these other games and we are in a good position here being in the winner's bracket semi-final game on Tuesday," Joyce stated. "We just have to keep it rolling one game at a time."

Forrest 16, Huntland 6

Huntland 105 00-6 9 1

Forrest 370 24-16 15 0

Huntland: Kobe Foster 2-for-3, Cody Daniel 2-for-3, Tyler Smith 2-for-2, Blake Haddom 2-for-3, Elijah Shadow 1-for-3

RS: Foster, Shadow, Daniels, Cole Tate, Smith, Dalton Plemons

RBI: Foster 2, Daniels, Smith, Plemons, Haddom

HBP: Smith, Plemons, Joe Dickson

SB: Foster, Smith

CS: Daniels

Forrest: Ryan Yelensky 3-for-3, Austin Welty 2-for-3, Alex Brewer 2-for-3, Boone Sweeney 2-for-3, Slayton Wild 2-for-4, Bryce Oliver 2-for-3, Jonathan Lykins 1-for-3, Landon Jones 1-for-3

RS: Brewer 3, Yelensky 2, Lykins 2, Landon Jones 2, Wild 2, Welty, Sweeney, Jaylen Smith, Oliver, Payton Sisk

2B: Oliver, Landon Jones, Wild, Brewer, Yelensky

RBI: Yelensky 3, Landon Jones 3, Oliver 2, Sweeney 2, Wild, Lykins, Welty, Jacob Jones

SAC: Jacob Jones, Welty

FC: Landon Jones, Lykins

HBP: Landon Jones

SB: Landon Jones, Brewer, Yelensky, Sisk

WP: Ryan Yelensky (2.1IP, 8H, 6R, 6ER, 4K, 1BB), Ethan Mealer (2.2IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 4K, 0BB)

LP: Cole Tate