Rockets bunt to squeeze out a win over Eagles
Executing the little stuff in a baseball games usually results in a victory.
The Forrest Rockets proved the age old adage, playing an almost flawless game Wednesday night at Chapel Hill to capture an exciting 1-0 win over District 9A rival Eagleville.
A Jaylen Smith suicide squeeze bunt with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning was the final little thing Forrest did right to secure the win.
“I was thinking because I went 0-for-3 the first three times, I was destined to get a hit the fourth time,” Smith said. “Coach told me that we were going to see what he did the first pitch and we were going to do the squeeze the second pitch.”
Smith, who had struck out in his three prior at-bats, fouled off the first pitch before laying down a beauty up the first base line that easily scored pinch runner Lucas Welch standing up for the only tally the Rockets needed.
“I know he (Smith) handles the bat good and sometimes in baseball you just have a bad night,” Forrest coach Bart Joyce said. “I got faith in the kid, he is our lead off guy and handles the bat good, so we just rolled the dice, we rolled them out there and that’s what happened.”
Forrest ace Jonathan Lykins turned in a spectacular performance on the mound for Chapel Hill, picking up the complete game, two-hit win.
“I was trying to just stay strong and throw strikes, but most importantly have a strong defense behind me and that’s all that matters,” Lykins said. “I stayed confident and do what I do and we won, that’s pretty much it.”
Lykins struck out four and walked just one Eagle batter in the game and he went 2-for-3 at the plate for Forrest (2-2, 2-1), who travelled to Eagleville last night to wrap up the home and away league series.
“We gotta a win in both places and that’s what we will look to do tomorrow,” Joyce said. “It’s always tough to play on the road, but that’s baseball and that’s why we go over there and play a two-game series.”
“We will just roll em out there again tomorrow and see what happens.”
Austin Wells was the tough-luck loser for Eagleville (3-4, 2-1), also going the distance in the contest. Wells struck out 11 Forrest hitters, walked one, and gave up six base hits.
After an uneventful pop-up to Smith to start the game, things got a little weird when Austin Wells seemed to foul a ball off his leg, but was called out on a groundout by the home plate umpire.
Eagleville manager Travis Holland protested the call and went to the first base umpire for a ruling and after a few minutes, the call was overturned.
Joyce bounced out of the dugout and protested the overruling and his argument was met with satisfaction by both umpires, who conversed before going back to the original out call.
Holland was not happy, but the game resumed and Lykins retired the next batter on a groundout to Smith to end the inning.
Austin Wells gave up one hit in each of the first three innings, but he whiffed nine in the same time period to keep the game scoreless, heading into the top of the fourth inning.
Lykins struck out leadoff hitter Blake Brewer, but the ball bounced away and Forrest freshman catcher Blaize Sweeney made a nice play as he gunned down the speedy Brewer at first base.
Austin Wells helped his own cause with a single to right field before Lykins hit Isaac Gleaves with a pitch.
Eagleville cleanup batter Matthew Boyett came up in the huge spot, but Lykins induced a ground ball to third baseman Ethan Mealer, who tagged out Wells before throwing to first baseman Dustin Brasher for the inning ending double play.
Brashear singled up the middle to lead off the bottom of the inning, but Wells got three consecutive ground ball outs and the game remained scoreless.
Both pitchers retired the side in order in the fifth inning before Ryan Wells led off the top of the sixth with a base hit.
Ryan Wells was caught leaning on a steal and took off for second base and Sweeney threw behind Wells to Brashear, who gunned him down for the out and Lykins retired the next two Eagleville batters to end the inning.
Lykins came up with a one out swinging bunt single in the bottom of the sixth and his pinch runner Gauge Anderson went to second on a groundout by Brashear.
Austin Wells struck out the next Forrest batter to end the inning and Lykins set down Eagleville 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh, setting up the home half drama.
After a routine fly out to center field for the first out, Sweeney came up with a swinging bunt down the third base line, but the throw sailed over the first baseman’s head and out of play and Sweeney was awarded second base on the error.
Welch came in to run for Sweeney and JT Ferguson also reached on an error on the Eagleville second baseman, putting Rockets on the corners.
Grayson Whaley came up to bat as a pinch hitter for Forrest and was intentionally walked to load the bases after Ferguson stole second base.
Smith stepped in the batter’s box and on a 0-1 count, the Forrest shortstop neatly coaxed the ball up the first base line with his bat and Welch scooted home with the winning run to end the game.
“We played well, especially Lykins on the mound, he threw spectacular and you just couldn’t ask for a better pitched game than that,” Joyce said. “And defensively behind him, we made plays all night and they never got a guy to third base.”
Eagleville 000 000 0-0 2 2
Forrest 000 000 1-1 6 0
Eagleville: Austin Wells 1-for-3, Ryan Wells 1-for-2
FC: Matthew Boyett
HBP: Issac Gleaves
CS: Ryan Wells
E: Cade Herndon, Kobe Timberlake
LP: Austin Wells (6.1IP, 6H, 1R, 0ER, 11K, 1BB)
Forrest: Jonathan Lykins 2-for-3, Jaylen Smith 1-for-3, Luke Cunningham 1-for-3, Dustin Brashear 1-for-3, Ethan Mealer 1-for-3
SAC: Dylan Eady
ROE: JT Ferguson, Blaize Sweeney
BB: Grayson Whaley
RS: Lucas Welch
WP: Jonathan Lykins (7IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 4K, 0BB)