Rockets rout Hornets in D9A opener
After a two-day washout, the Forrest Rockets finally took the field at Chapel Hill in the District 9A Tournament opener on Saturday and the offense came alive, exploding in a 13-1, five-inning run-rule win over Huntland.
Forrest assistant coach Andy Burkett notched his first varsity win because the Rockets played the game without head coach Bart Joyce, who was absent tending to his newborn son Tucker Lee Joyce.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the boys,” Burkett said. “We wanted to win this game for Coach Joyce because we know he has a lot of stuff going on in his personal life, so we just wanted to take care of business and stay in the winner’s bracket.”
Forrest banged out 15 hits in the game with Jacob Jones going 3-for-3 with three runs scored and an RBI double, while JT Ferguson (4RBI, 2B, 2RS), Luke Cunningham (RBI, 2RS), Dylan Eady (RBI, 2B, 2RS) and Jaylen Smith (RBI, 3RS, SB) all had two hits apiece in the contest.
“I am proud of the way we performed at the plate,” Burkett said. “We were disciplined, put the ball in play when we needed too, we only had two fly outs in the entire game and hardly any strikeouts at all.”
“We rolled the ball in between the lines and that’s how we draw it up and that’s what we want.”
Jonathan Lykins tossed four innings to pick up the win and move to 6-1 on the season.
Lykins gave up one run on six hits and struck out one and walked one Huntland batter before Ethan Mealer closed out the game, facing just two batters in the fifth inning.
Lykins gave up one hit in a scoreless top of the first inning and in the top of the second, Lykins grabbed a hot shot back to the mound with a runner on first base and one out and gunned to Smith at shortstop, who fired to Brashear at first for the first of three double plays in the game for the Rockets.
“I’m really proud of our defense playing behind him (Lykins),” Burkett said. “When we play solid defense like that we think we can play with anybody in the state.”
Forrest left two runners on base in the first and failed to score, but in the bottom of the second, the Rockets batted around, scoring five runs on five hits on RBI by Ferguson, Cunningham and Lykins.
Lykins issued his lone walk of the game to Zach Banks to leadoff the third inning, but the big senior righty retired the next three Huntland batters in a row.
Chapel Hill busted the game open in the home half of the inning, plating six runs on a two-run double by Cunningham and RBI base knocks by Eady, Smith, Cunningham and Lykins.
The Hornets got on the board on the top of the fourth inning on an RBI hit by Huntland starting pitcher Colton Elliott to make it 11-1 before Lykins worked his way out of a two-on, no-out jam.
In the home half of the stanza, Jones and Ferguson knocked in one run apiece to make it a 13-1 contest and after Lykins gave up a leadoff hit to pinch hitter Jarod Pendleton in the top of the fifth inning, Mealer came on and got a fly out to right field for the first out before the Rockets turned a game-ending 1-6-3 double play.
“I owe a lot to coach Joyce, he was the one who pulled me up from the middle school team to be here,” Burkett added. “It’s just an honor to be on the coaching staff with him and coach (Josh) Harmon and I’m just glad I was able to fill in his shoes and get us in the right spot when he comes back.”
Huntland 000 10-1 6 5
Forrest 056 2X-13 15 0
Huntland: Cody Daniel 2-for-2, Colton Elliott 1-for-2, Cole Tate 1-for-2, Zach Stovall 1-for-2, Jarod Pendleton 1-for-1
BB: Zach Banks
GIDP: Joe Dickson, Ryan Dickey
E: Zach Rogers, Daniel, Elliott, Stovall, Ryan Dickey
LP: Colton Elliott
Forrest: Jacob Jones 3-for-3, JT Ferguson 2-for-4, Luke Cunningham 2-for-4, Dylan Eady 2-for-3, Jaylen Smith 2-for-2, Dustin Brashear 1-for-4, Blaize Sweeney 1-for-3
2B: Jones, Eady, Ferguson
RBI: Ferguson 4, Brashear 2, Lykins 2, Eady, Cunningham, Jones, Smith
RS: Jones 3, Smith 3, Ferguson 2, Cunningham 2, Eady 2, Gauge Anderson
ROE: Brashear, Ferguson
FC: Cunningham 2
DP: Smith 2, Lykins, Mealer, Brashear 2
WP: Jonathan Lykins (4IP, 6H, 1R, 1ER, 1K, 1BB), Ethan Mealer (1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0K, 0BB)