Forrest run-rules E. Robertson in region opener
The Forrest Rockets are a determined squad and they showed their resiliency once again on a rainy Monday night at Chapel Hill, blasting District 10-A runner-up East Robertson 11-1 in five innings for an opening round Region 5-A Tournament win.
"It's a great feeling, you have to give all the credit to the boys, they came out tonight focused," Forrest coach Bart Joyce said. "They got down, came back, held their composure and capitalized on big hits at crucial times with two outs, so it was a great job at the plate with two-out hitting."
The Rockets travel to Clarksville Academy (25-8) tonight for a 5 p.m. start versus the Cougars, who beat Eagleville 7-0 on Tuesday night.
Some big game nerves were in order early for Forrest, but as has been the case all season, the Rockets bounced back in a hurry and once they got the offense going, the Indians were done.
East Robertson came up with a run in the first inning off Rockets ace Ryan Yelensky, who worked his way out of a bases loaded one-out jam to escape big damage in the frame.
Yelensky would not surrender another run the remainder of the contest to pick up the win for Forrest (24-6) as the senior righty gave up three hits, struck out five and walked two in four innings on the hill.
"Ryan has been our go-to all year long and showed up tonight and kept us right there in the ballgame," Joyce said. "He gave up a run early, kept us right there, and kept us right there and then the sticks came through for him."
Boone Sweeney came up with the game tying RBI single in the bottom of the first inning and Yelensky sent the Indians back to the bench in order in the top of the second.
With the weather turning south, East Robertson starter Luke Murphy escaped a two-on, two-out jam in the home half of the inning as did Yelensky in the top of third.
Alex Brewer singled to lead off the bottom of the inning and stole second base before a fly out to right field.
Brewer scampered to third on a passed ball and the Rockets would go on to load the bases on back-to-back walks to Sweeney and Jonathan Lykins.
Forrest looked disaster in the face when a pop-up on an attempted squeeze bunt was caught by Murphy, who had an easy double play at third base, but he threw wildly and all the runners got back safely.
On the next pitch to home plate, Brewer came sliding safely across the dish when Murphy uncorked a wild pitch, making it 2-1.
Yelensky was solid in his final inning of work in the top of the fourth and in the bottom of the inning, Forrest put the game away, scoring nine runs off three East Robertson pitchers.
Forrest sent 13 batters to the plate in the onslaught as Landon and Jacob Jones had RBI bases on balls, the red-hot Bryce Oliver drove home one with a base hit and Lykins came up with a big two-out, two-run single.
Austin Welty stuck in the dagger with a bases clearing three-run double to put the Rockets up by 10 runs and three outs away from a guaranteed state sectional berth on Friday.
"Lykins came through with a big two-out screamer to right field that kept the inning going, Wild gets hit the next batter and then Bryce Oliver makes something happen when he makes the shortstop go way back in the hole to try to make a play," Joyce said. "And Welty with that two-out gap shot with runners moving really broke open the game."
Freshman Ethan Mealer came on to try to close the deal for the Rockets, but ran into some trouble and needed help from Brewer, who came on with the bases loaded and two outs.
Brewer has been almost unhittable in his closer's role late in the campaign and he quickly turned back any comeback effort by the Indians, striking out the final two batters to end the game.
"These post-season games are all do-or-die and you have to bring that mentality to every game that there is no tomorrow and you bring it to the field and they did that tonight," Joyce stated.
East Robertson 100 00-1 5 2
Forrest 101 9X-11 5 3
East Robertson: Rob Patterson 2-for-3, Luke Murphy 1-for-3, Angel Mayorga 1-for-3, Spencer Jones 1-for-2
BB: Matt Wix, Justin Rye
RBI: Spencer Jones
Forrest: Austin Welty 1-for-3, Alex Brewer 1-for-1, Landon Jones 1-for-3, Boone Sweeney 1-for-2, Jonathan Lykins 1-for-2
RS: Brewer 3, Michael Dyer 2, Welty, Landon Jones, Lykins, Slayton Wild, Bryce Oliver, Jacob Jones
BB: Ryan Yelensky, Brewer, Landon Jones, Sweeney, Lykins, Oliver, Jacob Jones
RBI: Welty 3, Lykins 2, Jacob Jones, Landon Jones, Yelensky
ROE: Oliver, Yelensky
HBP: Brewer 2, Wild, Welty, Yelensky
WP: Ryan Yelensky (4IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 5K, 2BB), Ethan Mealer (.1, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 1K, 0BB), Alex Brewer (.2IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 2K, 0BB)
LP: Luke Murphy