Rockets stay in tune during summer ball

Thursday, June 22, 2017
Forrest’s Lane Allen drills the go-ahead two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the ninth inning at Chapel Hill Tuesday night.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

Playing in the summer league is an important aspect of the Forrest baseball program because it allows head coach Bart Joyce an opportunity to provide some extra tutelage to the younger players needed next season to step in for the six graduating seniors that won three consecutive District 9-A titles for the Rockets.

“Number one, it gives the coaches a look at what we got for the upcoming season,” Joyce said. “Number two, we get to put guys in positions and some situations to get them ready for next year and it might not be the exact position they played this past season, but it may be a new position we are looking at.”

“They are getting reps in and seeing good pitching and they are getting to work on the game and getting better as an individual and that’s what summer ball is about.”

The extra work also allows players who have been injured a chance to get some repetitions and Lane Allen took advantage of his opportunity on Tuesday versus Eagleville.

The Forrest junior missed the entire 2016-2017 because of Tommy John surgery and was in the designated hitter spot versus the Eagles.

Allen went 2-for-5 in the contest, including a dramatic go-ahead hit in the bottom of the ninth inning in the 10-inning summer league game.

“It was great having him (Allen) back through his injuries,” Joyce said. “He played well last summer than had the setback with the Tommy John surgery….it’s great to have him back becuase he is a great contact hitter and he came through today.”

“We had some other big hits too,” Joyce added. “Dustin Brashear had a big hit and Brett Burnham had a nice drag bunt there at the end when we finally got some runners on base and got them in.”

The Rockets looked like they would rather be at the beach in the first six innings, but Eagleville starting pitcher Kade Herndon had a lot to do with Forrest’s slow start, tossing six strong innings of three-hit, no-run baseball.

Forrest also had eight errors in the game with a bunch coming early as Eagleville took a 6-0 lead to the seventh inning behind three unearned runs.

Blake Brewer and Isaac Gleaves had two RBI apiece in the first seven innings, while Austin Wells and Jonah Clement drove home one run each for Eagleville.

Dustin Brashear pitched four innings of three-hit ball and went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

Dustin Brashear started on the mound for Forrest and turned in a solid four-inning performance on the hill, giving up one earned on four hits, while striking out five and walking zero Eagleville batters.

Dylan Eady came on for Brashear and pitched two innings, surrendering four runs (two earned) on six hits. Eady had three strikeouts and did not walk a batter.

JT Ferguson got some work on the hill and performed well in his two innings of work, giving up one run, while striking out two and walking none.

Freshman catcher Blaize Sweeney showed some big promise on the other end of the battery as he came up with the win, tossing two innings of one-hit baseball to end the contest.

“All four of them did a great job, they all kept us in the game and kept us in striking distance where we could have that big inning and get back in the game there,” Joyce said.

Trailing 6-0 in the seventh inning, Forrest finally came alive in the home half of the frame as they sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five runs to make it a one-run game.

Drew Daughrity started the one-out rally with an infield single and Gauge Anderson followed with a base hit to right field.

Brett Burnham lays down a perfect bunt for a base hit in the Rockets’ big five-run seventh inning.

Brett Burnham laid down a perfect bunt and beat the throw to first to load the bases before Daughrity scored on a wild pitch by Eagleville reliever Caleb Holdcraft.

Holdcraft struck out Ferguson before Anderson and Burnham came home on a two-run error via an Eady grounder to short to make it 6-3.

Brashear made it 6-4 with an RBI double and after Ryan Moses drew a base on balls, Sweeney lined a single to center field, cutting the Eagleville lead 6-5.

Blaize Sweeney picked up the win on the mound and had one hit and an RBI in the Rockets’ 7-6 come from behind win over Eagleville.

The Eagles did not score off of Ferguson in the eighth inning and in the bottom of the stanza, Forrest had runners on first and second base when Eagleville turned an around the horn 5-4-3 triple play.

The Rockets had some defense of their own in the top of the ninth when Sweeney got out of a two-on, one-out jam when Burnham grabbed a ground ball and stepped on second before throwing to Grayson Whaley at first for the inning ending 4-3 double play.

Forrest rallied with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, beginning with a Brashear base on balls, followed by a single to center field by Moses.

Ferguson came in to run for the Forrest catcher and Sweeney got hit by a pitch to load the bases for Allen, who stroked a two-strike pitch to right field, bringing home Brashear and Ferguson as the Rockets took the lead.

In the top of the 10th, Sweeney struck out the first Eagleville batter before an error and a double put Eagles on second and third base.

Sweeney got a ground ball out that did not score a run and the game ended on a fly ball to Ferguson in center field.

Forrest left fielder Drew Daughrity hauls in a fly ball for the Rockets, who beat Eagleville 7-6.

Forrest and Eagleville played to a 10 inning draw on Wednesday to end the summer league slate.

“We have played well this summer, the guys have got plenty of work, the guys are getting better and we are getting better as a team,” Joyce said.

There is a two-week TSSAA imposed high school dead period from June 25 to July 10.

“We are excited about next year,” Joyce said. “The coaching staff is exciting about the year and we are really happy with the effort the kids are giving this summer.”

Eagleville 000 104 100 0-6 14 5

Forrest 000 000 502 X-7 10 8

Eagleville: Blake Brewer 2-for-5, Isaac Gleaves 2-for-5, Austin Wells 2-for-4, Jonah Clement 2-for-4, Ryan Wells 2-for-3, Blake Joyner 1-for-5, Jay Herrington 1-for-2, Kade Herndon 1-for-2, Caleb Holdcraft 1-for-1

2B: Gleaves 2, Brewer, Austin Wells, Clement, Holdcraft

RBI: Brewer 2, Gleaves 2, Austin Wells, Clement

RS: Joyner 2, Brewer, Gleaves, Ty Reynolds, Corbin Miller

BB: Ryan Wells

HBP: Cody Settlemire

ROE: Joyner 2, Brewer 2, Herrington, Reynolds, Ryan Smith

CS: Joyner

GIDP: Reynolds

LP: Will Graves (2IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 0K, 2BB), Kade Herndon (6IP, 3H, 0R, 0ER, 3K, 0BB), Caleb Holdcraft (2IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 0K, 2BB)

Forrest: Dustin Brashear 2-for-4, Ryan Moses 2-for-4, Lane Allen 2-for-5, Blaize Sweeney 1-for-4, Drew Daughrity 1-for-4, Gauge Anderson 1-for-4, Blake Burnham 1-for-4

2B: Brashear

RBI: Allen 2, Brashear, Sweeney

RS: Brashear 2, JT Ferguson, Dylan Eady, Daughrity, Anderson, Burnham

BB: Brashear, Moses

HBP: Sweeney

ROE: Eady 2, Ferguson, Daughrity, Burnham

SB: Eady, Brashear

CS: Moses

GITP: Burnham

E: Burnham 3, Anderson 2, Grayson Whaley 2, Sweeney

WP: Blaize Sweeney (2IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1K, 1BB), Dustin Brashear (4IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 5K, 0BB), Dylan Eady (2IP, 6H, 4R, 2ER, 3K, 0BB), JT Ferguson (2IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 2K, OBB)