Rockets rule Region 5-A
Forrest made the long trek north Wednesday night, traveling to Clarksville Academy where they came away with an 8-3 win over the Cougars in the Region 5-A title game, earning the Rockets a home game tonight versus Grace Christian School-Franklin in the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association's state sectional round where the winner goes to the Spring Fling next week.
"It feels wonderful," Forrest coach Bart Joyce said. "It's like I said before, all the credit goes to the guys, this group of seniors with their leadership, this is what they want and this is what they have worked so hard for day in and day out for the common goal of the team."
It will be the fourth season in a row that the Rockets will play in a sectional game, losing in 2013 and 2015 to Cornersville at home and winning in 2014 at Summertown.
"That's what you want, you want to be back home for that do-or-die game, that one game to get to the state tournament," Joyce said. "We are looking forward to it and I know the boys are pumped and ready to go."
The Rockets' pitching staff turned in another outstanding post-season performance as Jonathan Lykins picked up the win, going six innings before Alex Brewer came on in the seventh to close the deal.
"Lykins has been solid all year and whenever we can get six (innings) and go to our closer, that is what you want," Joyce said. "Especially with the lead that we got and then holding it there---it was a great job by Johnny and Brewer coming in to finish it out."
Lykins gave up three runs (two earned) on eight hits, struck out three and walked one Cougar batter, while Brewer gave up no hits and no runs, while whiffing one and issuing one bases on balls.
Brewer, who was named yesterday as one of the three finalists for the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association Mr. Baseball Award, had two hits, scored two runs, and drove home one at Clarksville as the Rockets banged out 11 hits off four Cougar hurlers.
Brewer was also a finalist for the award last season that went to Goodpasture's Drew Hall. Scott Lentz from Columbia Academy and Summertown's Bryce Giles join Brewer this season as Class A finalists.
Austin Welty, Landon Jones and Slayton Wild also had two hits apiece for the Rockets and Ryan Yelensky, Boone Sweeney and Bryce Oliver had one base knock each.
Brewer's RBI single in the first inning opened the scoring in the region title game and the Rockets added a run in the second inning on a sacrifice fly RBI by Yelensky, while Lykins shut down the Cougars, allowing just one base runner the first two innings.
In the top of third inning a Landon Jones double off the left field wall drove home another run and Boone Sweeney made it 4-0 with a sacrifice fly.
The Cougars came back in the home half of the inning, cutting the Forrest lead to one run on RBI by Michael Conn, Brayden Batson and Phillip Smith before the Rockets escaped any further damage, turning the first of two double plays in the contest.
Forrest went down 1-2-3 in the top of the fourth and in the bottom of the inning, Wyatt Samuels led off with a base hit for the Cougars, but was erased on a neat 6-4-3 double play started by sophomore shortstop Jaylen Smith and ending on a nice tag of the runner at first by senior Landon Jones.
"Those double plays were huge," Joyce said. "Jaylen Smith and Welty are a good duo there when we have to move Brewer to third when Johnny (Lykins) is on the mound and Smith has really stepped up as sophomore, stepping up big in those situations."
The Rockets added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the fifth to make it 6-3 and Lykins had little trouble in the home side of the frame.
The Cougars threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, loading the bases with one out, but Lykins reached back for some extra mojo and got out number two on a pop-up to Sweeney behind home plate and the inning ended on a grounder to Brewer at third, who made a nice play on a softly hit ground ball.
Forrest was not done scoring as they tacked on a pair of runs in the top of the seventh on RBI base hits by Wild and Oliver.
Brewer came to the hill in the bottom of the inning and after issuing a leadoff walk to John Austin Peay, the Vanderbilt signee retired the next three batters in a row to end the game and secure the region championship for Forrest (25-6).
The sectional game tonight versus second-year TSSAA member Grace Christian School-Franklin (23-13) will start at 6 p.m.
Forrest 112 020 2-8 11 2
Clarksville Academy 003 000 0-3 8 0
Forrest: Austin Welty 2-for-3, Alex Brewer 2-for-3, Landon Jones 2-for-4, Slayton Wild 2-for-4, Ryan Yelensky 1-for-4, Boone Sweeney 1-for-3, Bryce Oliver 1-for-3
RS: Welty 3, Brewer 2, Kain Harrison, Michael Dyer, Wild
BB: Welty, Brewer, Jacob Jones
2B: Landon Jones, Sweeney, Wild
RBI: Landon Jones 2, Oliver, Sweeney, Wild, Brewer, Yelensky
SF: Sweeney, Yelensky
FC: Sweeney, Welty
HBP: Jacob Jones, Jonathan Lykins
SB: Welty 2, Dyer, Jacob Jones, Brewer
Clarksville Academy: Michael Conn 2-for-4, John Austin Peay 1-for-3, Brandon Batson 1-for-4, Trevor Mace 1-for-4, Wyatt Samuels 1-for-2, Robbie Yates 1-for-3, Zack Wendell 1-for-3
RS: Peay, Eli Dorman, Wendell
BB: Peay, Samuels
RBI: Conn, Batson, Mace
FC: Mace, Phillip Smith
GIDP: Smith, Yates
WP: Jonathan Lykins (6IP, 8H, 3R, 2ER, 3K, 1BB), Alex Brewer (1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 1K, 1BB)
LP: Michael Conn