Rockets come back again over Eagleville

Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Luke Cunningham scores on a wild, controversial play in the bottom of the third inning.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

Forrest (20-10-1) picked up win number 20 on the season and it was a big one as the top-seeded Rockets erased an early deficit and then hung for a 5-4 win over Eagleville in a District 9A Tournament winner’s bracket contest at Chapel Hill Monday night.

Jordan Jent saved the day for the Rockets, coming to the mound for a struggling Ethan Mealer in the fifth inning.

Jent earned his second save of the season, pitching the final 2.1 innings and the senior also knocked in the eventual go-ahead run with an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Ethan Mealer moved to 6-1 on the season when he picked up the win over Eagleville in the second round of the District 9A Tournament Monday at Chapel Hill.

Mealer (6-1) tossed 4.2 innings and gave up three runs on eight hits, while striking out three and walking three Eagleville batters.

“Mealer did not have his best game, but he did survive and kept us in the ballgame along with the guys behind him and our hitting came through and got some runs to stay in contention to win,” Forrest coach Bart Joyce said. “Mealer did what he was supposed to do, not his best, but he got the job done.”

Jacob Jones belts the go-ahead RBI single in the bottom of the fourth inning.

The hot hitting Jacob Jones, who has raised his batting average (.333) to second on the team behind JT Ferguson (.377) went 2-for-2 and put the Rockets up 4-3 when he drilled a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Ferguson also continued his stellar season with a 2-for-4 effort at the dish and scored a run.

The Eagles broke through with a pair of first inning runs on RBI by Mathew Boyett and Jonah Clement and it could have been a lot worse if not for Mealer’s determination to get out of a two-on, two-out jam.

“That could have been a lot worse and I think we were fortunate enough to escape with what we did.” Joyce said.

The Rockets got one run back in the home half of the first on an RBI base knock by Jonathan Lykins.

There was no scoring in the second inning and Eagleville threatened again in the top of the third when they loaded the bases with one out, but once again Mealer escaped on a fly out to Dylan Eady in right field and an inning ending strikeout.

It was the third battle of the season between the two close proximity rivals with the first contest ending on a game-winning squeeze bunt by Jaylen Smith in the bottom of the seventh inning at Chapel Hill on March 23 and one day later, Forrest survived a 13-inning marathon with a 4-2 win on a go-head RBI hit by Ferguson at Eagleville.

The bottom of the third inning Monday night was the topper.

The frame started auspiciously with a Jones leadoff base on balls and a base hit to right field by Ferguson.

A passed ball sent Jones to third, but Ferguson remained at first base, bringing up Luke Cunningham, who has a knack for showing up in the spotlight at crunch time.

Cunningham drilled a single to right field that scored Jones to tie the game and then the craziness ensued as Ferguson was thrown out at third base on a play that ended up being a pileup with Ferguson, Eagleville third-baseman Austin Wells and Forrest coach Bart Joyce.

Wells emerged from the pile and attempted to throw Cunningham out at second base, but an errant throw soared into center field and Cunningham raced all the way around the bases and scored the go-head run.

Eagleville coach Travis Holland charged out of the dugout after the play and argued for an obstruction call with the umpires for several minutes, but was unsuccessful in his debate and the game resumed with the Eagles getting the next two outs.

“It’s always crazy with Eagleville, but that’s baseball,” Joyce said. “Coach Holland does a great job and they are a well-disciplined team and get the job done, so I would not expect anything less in this game that was a fight to the end.”

Wells redeemed himself with a game-tying RBI single in the top of the fourth inning, but it was short-lived when Jones put the Rockets up 4-3 in the home half of the frame.

Mealer was replaced by Jent with two-on and two-out in the top of the fifth inning and Jent got Kobe Timberlake out on a fly ball to Eady in right field on a 3-1 count.

Jordan Jent picked up his second save of the season and knocked in an insurance run in the fifth inning.

Jent delivered his RBI hit in the bottom of the inning, scoring Cunningham who had reached on a leadoff error.

Jent ran into trouble in the top of the sixth, walking in a run with the bases loaded and one out, but he did a Houdini when he escaped again on a fly out to Eady where Holland did not send the runner at third base and the inning ended on a groundout to Smith at short.

Forrest did not score in the bottom of the sixth and in the seventh inning, Jent set down the Eagles 1-2-3 to secure the win and send the Rockets to the District 9A Tournament title game at 5 p.m. tonight at Chapel Hill.

Jaylen Smith squeezes the second out in the top of the seventh inning for the Rockets, who play Eagleville tonight at 5 p.m. for the District 9A title.

“We are in the winner’s bracket and that’s where you want to be in the tournament,” Joyce said. “We will get some practice in tomorrow and come back and get after it in this championship game.”

Eagleville 200 101-4 10 3

Forrest 102 110 X-5 9 0

Eagleville: Austin Wells 3-for-5, Matthew Boyett 2-for-3, Issac Gleaves 1-for-2, Jonah Clement 1-for-3, Ethan Cobb 1-for-3, Kobe Timberlake 1-for-4, Blake Joyner 1-for-2

RBI: Wells, Boyett, Clement, Cobb

BB: Gleaves 2, Cobb, Joyner

RS: Wells 2, Brewer, Joyner

SAC: Blake Brewer

SF: Clement

HBP: Brewer, Boyett, Joyner

LOB: 13

E: Wells 2, Brewer

LP: Mitchell Burris

Forrest: JT Ferguson 2-for-4, Jacob Jones 2-for-2, Luke Cunningham 1-for-4, Dustin Brashear 1-for-2, Jonathan Lykins 1-for-3, Jordan Jent 1-for-1, Jaylen Smith 1-for-3

RBI: Jent, Lykins, Cunningham, Jones

BB: Brashear, Jones

RS: Cunningham 2, Ferguson, Gauge Anderson, Jones

ROE: Cunningham

HBP: Blaize Sweeney 2

PIK: Brashear

LOB: 6

WP: Ethan Mealer (4.2IP, 8H, 3R, 3ER, 3K, 3BB)

Save: Jordan Jent (2.1IOP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 0K, 1BB)