Rockets repeat as 9-A champs
After cruising undefeated thru regular season district play, the Forrest Rockets received a wake-up call via a 4-3 defeat at the hands of Eagleville on Wednesday in the first of two championship tilts.
Rain forced the postponement of the final clash from Thursday to Friday night and Eagleville picked up right where they left off, jumping to a 2-0 lead before Forrest answered the call, pounding out 15 hits off three Eagleville hurlers en route to a huge 10-4 win, marking back-to-back District 9-A Tournament titles for the Rockets.
'Lot of heart'
"They came out with a lot of heart," Forrest coach Bart Joyce said. "They got kicked down the other night, but man they answered the call. They got down early and came back and got a heck of a job done."
Jordan Jent took the ball from Joyce for the start on the hill for the Rockets and the junior hurler overcame some early wildness before settling in for the win.
In his groove
"I knew I had to throw strikes, so we could play again at home Monday," Jent said. "I struggled that first inning, but got in my groove the second through the fifth inning and started throwing strikes and just letting my defense work."
Jent went five 1/3 innings, giving up four runs (two earned) on eight hits, while striking out two and walking two Eagleville batters.
"He has been our go-to guy in these late series games all year and again tonight he came in and did an excellent job," Joyce said. "He just does what he is supposed to do, he held them to four runs, kept us in the ballgame and that his role on the team and he fulfilled that tonight."
After a Boone Sweeney missile sailed out of the ballpark for a solo homerun in the top of the sixth, Jonathan Lykins came on to put out a fire, striking out both Eagleville hitters he faced to preserve a 9-4 Forrest lead.
"Our bats came alive when we needed them too and so did our pitching," Sweeney said. "It's good knowing that we can come together in the post-season and come back with a win like that."
Alex Brewer slammed the door shut on Eagleville, sitting down the first two Eagleville batters on strikeouts looking.
Brewer induced a fly ball to Ryan Yelensky in center field for the title clinching out.
The Eagles got a two-run double by Jake Bolden in the first inning, but Forrest came back in the top of the second inning, rallying with two outs.
Landon Jones was standing on second base with two outs after reaching on a one-out error and Slayton Wild knocked him in with a single to left field.
Another booted ball by the Eagles allowed Bryce Oliver to get to first base before Jacob Jones drilled a two-strike pitch down the left field line, tying the game and sending a huge charge into the Rockets that never simmered down the remainder of the game.
"That got everybody fired up," Joyce said. "He got a good pitch, he turned on it and fired it down the line and it really got the boys going."
Yelensky followed the game tying hit with a go-ahead single and Forrest would never trail again.
Eagleville fought right back to tie the game on a John Fitzgerald RBI single in the bottom of the second inning before Forrest surged in the third, scoring four runs on a Landon Jones RBI base hit, an opposite field two-run double by Sweeney and an Eagleville error.
There was no scoring in the fourth, highlighted by a sweet 4-6-3 inning ending double play by the Rockets' infield and District Tournament MVP Sweeney launched his blast in the top of the fifth before Jent shut out the Eagles for the second frame in a row.
"Boone has played solid defense all week long and showed up with the bat every night and did what he was supposed to do," Joyce stated. "It's a huge for him to win that award and he is just an all-around good kid."
Brewer drove home a run in the top of the sixth to make it 9-3 and in the bottom of the stanza, Jent tired a bit and gave up a run before Lykins bailed him out with the pair of whiffs, sending the game to the final inning.
Jacob Jones, who went a perfect 3-for-3 in Forrest's offensive explosion drove home the final run of the night before Brewer came on to dominate with the 1-2-3 inning to end the contest.
The first pitch for the region opener is at 7 p.m. and Joyce knows that both teams will be ready in the do-or-die contest at Chapel Hill.
"Nothing gets easy, it's a new season," Joyce said. "That's the post-season, every night, day in and day out, teams come to play and ours will as well."
Forrest 034 011 1-10 15 2
Eagleville 210 001 0-4 8 3
Eagleville: John Fitzgerald 2-for-4, Jake Bolden 2-for-3, Dylan Tapp 2-for-3, Brandon Kelley 1-for-3, Blake Brewer 1-for-3
RS: Tapp 2, Joyner, Austin Wells
BB: Matthew Boyett, Bolden
2B: Bolden, Tapp
RBI: Bolden 2, Kelley
SAC: Ty Ellis
HBP: Kelly, Jonah Clement
Forrest: Jacob Jones 3-for-3, Ryan Yelensky 2-for-5, Alex Brewer 2-for-3, Boone Sweeney 2-for-4, Slayton Wild 2-for-4, Bryce Oliver 2-for-4, Austin Welty 1-for-3, Landon Jones 1-for-4
RS: Welty 2, Landon Jones 2, Wild 2, Brewer, Kain Harrison, Sweeney, Oliver
BB: Welty, Brewer, Jacob Jones
2B: Jacob Jones, Sweeney, Brewer
RBI: Sweeney 3, Jacob Jones 2, Landon Jones, Wild, Brewer, Yelensky
SAC: Jonathan Lykins, Welty
ROE: Oliver 2, Landon Jones
SB: Welty, JT Ferguson
WP: Jordan Jent (5.1IP, 8H, 4R, 2ER, 2K, 2BB), Jonathan Lykins (0.2IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 2K, 0BB), Alex Brewer (1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 2K, 0BB)
LP: Mitchell Burris