Tigers upset Rockets 4-1 at Chapel Hill

Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Ethan Mealer bangs a double in the bottom of the first inning in the Rockets’ 4-1 loss to Fayetteville Monday night at Chapel Hill.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Forrest Rockets suffered their first District 9A loss since a 4-3 setback at Community on opening day as a determined Fayetteville (2-8, 2-7) squad marched into Chapel Hill and pulled off a convincing 4-1 upset win on Monday night.

“Fayetteville did come to play,” Forrest coach Bart Joyce said. “They came out firing at the plate and scored three runs early.”

“We just never could overcome the slow start that we had.”

Tiger starting pitcher Jonathan Pigg shut down the Forrest offense, tossing 6.2 innings and giving up four hits, zero earned runs, striking out two and walking four Rocket batters in the contest.

Jeffrie Pettie came on for Pigg with two-on and two-out in the bottom of the seventh inning and came up with a game ending strikeout, handing Forrest its second loss in a row.

The two teams met Tuesday night at Fayetteville to complete the home and away district series.

Fayetteville came out inspired, jumping on Forrest ace Jonathan Lykins with three first inning runs via an RBI double by Pigg and the eventual game winning two-run single by Matthew Potts.

The Rockets seemed stunned by the early setback and began to press at the plate, leaving at least one runner stranded on base every inning.

“I think our guys did start to press, they got down and then we played a little nervous the rest of the night,” Joyce said. “We never got into playing our game and sticking to our game.”

Forrest managed just four hits with Ethan Mealer going 2-for-4, while JT Ferguson and Jarvis Lyttle had one hit apiece.

The Rockets hit into two double plays and did not take advantage of getting a leadoff hitter on base in the second and third innings.

“We never did get the timely hit, we hit a lot of balls at people which is going to happen,” Joyce stated. “We just have to change our approach at the plate a little and come back tomorrow and play again.”

Fayetteville score an unearned run in the top of the fifth to make it 4-1 and it could have been a lot worse if Lykins had not made a circus catch on pop foul in front of the Tigers’ dugout to get out of a bases loaded jam.

Meanwhile, Pigg sailed through the first four innings until Blaize Sweeney walked to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning and was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Drew Daughrity.

Lucas Welch (17) slides safely into home to score Forrest’s only run in the fifth inning.

After a strikeout, Lucas Welch, who had come in as a courtesy runner for Sweeney, scored on a Fayetteville error to make it 4-1, but Pigg escaped any further damage when he induced an inning ending groundout to shortstop.

Lykins did not allow another baserunner the final two innings and the Rockets threatened in the bottom of the seventh inning with two outs.

“Once we got through the top of the first, Lykins did settle down and then got to throwing his game,” Joyce said. “He got a lot of ground ball and fly ball outs. He did pitch really well and did a good job.”

Pinch hitter Grayson Whaley started the rally with a base on balls and Jarvis Lyttle came in to pinch hit and for the second game in a row, he delivered a base hit.

Both runners moved up on a wild pitch before Pettie secured the win with the game ending whiff.

The Rockets (9-6, 5-2) are tied for first place in the District 9A standings with Eagleville (10-10, 5-2), but hold the tiebreaker via a sweep over the Eagles in the season series.

“We are not in bad shape,” Joyce said. “We just have to get back to playing our game. We've talked all year to the boys about playing our game and we just have to get back to playing our game versus Fayetteville Tuesday.”

Fayetteville 300 010 0-4 6 1

Forrest 000 010 0-1 4 1

Fayetteville: Mac O’Connor 2-for-4, Matthew Potts 2-for-3, Jonathan Pigg 1-for-4, Zorian Pullen 1-for-1

2B: O’Conner, Pigg

RBI: Potts 2, Pigg

BB: Cordell Jones

RS: O’Conner 2, Lex Marsh, Pigg

SAC: Pullen, Nathan Clutts

ROE: Jeffrie Pettie

HBP: Lex Marsh, Pullen

E: Pullen

WP: Jonathan Pigg (6.2IP, 4H, 1R, 0ER, 2K, 4BB)

Save: Jeffrie Pettie (0.1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 1K, 0BB)

Forrest: Ethan Mealer 2-for-3, JT Ferguson 1-for-4, Jarvis Lyttle 1-for-1

2B: Mealer

BB: Blaize Sweeney 2, Dustin Brashear, Grayson Whaley

RS: Lucas Welch

SAC: Drew Daughrity

ROE: Ferguson

HBP: Jonathan Lykins

GIDP: Mealer

CS: Gauge Anderson

E: Mealer

LP: Jonathan Lykins (7.0IP, 6H, 4R, 3ER, 8K, 1BB)