Rockets shock Chargers in first round triumph

Wednesday, May 23, 2018
The Rockets’ fans were out in full force, cheering the Chapel Hill boys on as they came up with a big 5-3 opening round win Tuesday night in the TSSAA Spring Fling XV Class AA baseball championship.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Forrest Rockets really don’t care who they play because they believe in one another.

Chapel Hill played flawless baseball in Tuesday’s night’s opening round of the Spring Fling XV Class AA state championship Tuesday at Blackman High School in Murfreesboro, taking down number one ranked Covington 5-3.

“I’m super proud of all 25 guys and it’s a great win for us and gets us rolling into tomorrow,” Joyce said. “These guys just keep fighting and keep fighting game in and game out and they really got it going right now, so we will be back in the morning and get it going against Greenville.”

Forrest (23-15) squares off in a winner’s bracket game today at 12:30 p.m. versus number two ranked Greeneville (26-11-1), who beat Smith County 3-0 in the first round.

Forrest junior Ethan Mealer moved to 4-0 in the postseason after picking up the win on the hill for the Rockets, who beat Covington 5-3 in the opening round of the TSSAA Spring Fling XV Tuesday night in Murfreesboro.

Forrest’s Ethan Mealer continued his postseason dominance on the mound, tossing a complete game versus the Chargers as the junior ace gave up eight hits, while striking out 11 and walking zero.

“Mealer threw just an outstanding game, he was on the plate all night long against a very good hitting team and he just did his job,” Joyce said. “We had some great plays in the outfield with J.T. (Ferguson) and (Drew) Daughrity making two big catches and the bats came through and we grinded out five runs to help Mealer out to get a huge win.”

The Forrest offense backed up Mealer with a solid effort as senior shortstop Jaylen Smith led the way with a 2-for-3 performance at the dish, including a huge two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the sixth inning that gave Mealer some breathing room.

“Tonight was amazing with the atmosphere and the boys really came together, it was a team effort, we did it and were able to beat them,” Mealer said. “I was really nervous at first, but after the first inning I relaxed and played my game, my defense played behind me, and we manufactured some runs.”

Grayson Whaley laces a double off the fence in the bottom of the fourth inning.

J.T. Ferguson (RS), Dylan Eady (RS), Dustin Brashear, Mealer (RBI), Grayson Whaley (2B, RS), and Blaize Sweeney (RBI) all had one hit apiece off Covington ace Christian Delashmit.

“I can’t say enough about the guys at the plate,” Joyce said. “They executed at the plate against a very, very good pitcher and hit grounds balls, hit line drives and really did it for us tonight.”

Mealer set down the first nine Chargers he faced in the contest, striking out five and whiffing three Charger batters in order in the top of the second inning.

The Rockets had one runner on base in each of the first three innings, but could not push across a run versus Delashmit.

Covington looked like they would take the lead in the top of the fourth inning as the Chargers loaded the bases with two outs when Brennan McClain drilled a shot into the right/center field gap, but Ferguson saved the day with a diving circus catch to end the inning.

Delashmit struck out the first two Forrest batters he faced in the home half of the inning until Whaley nearly put the Rockets ahead when he just missed a home run and settled for a double off the left field fence.

Blaize Sweeney drills an RBI single that scored Grayson Whaley to give the Rockets a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning.

Ryan Moses reached on an error to put Rockets on the corners and Sweeney proceeded to rip a base hit to right field, scoring Whaley to make it 1-0.

“It took us a few minutes, but it turned out we got on him (Delashmit) when we needed to and got some key hits when we needed it and that’s just how we do it,” Sweeney said. “They were the top dogs in this bracket and to beat them meant a lot and helps out our team for tomorrow.”

“We will still come in as the underdogs and prove everybody wrong because that’s how we like it.”

Mealer got the first two outs in the top of the fifth inning before the Chargers rallied with two outs and took a 2-1 lead as James Howard doubled and Sterling Lomax and Ty Warmath followed with back-to-back RBI singles.

The Rockets have been biting on the heels of their opponents when trailing all season and Tuesday was no different as they came up with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning.

Smith started the one-out rally when he drew a tough base on balls off Delashmit.

Eady singled and Brashear beat out an infield single to load the bases before Mealer grounded a ball to short that scored Smith and Eady came to the plate with the go-ahead run on a Covington throwing error as they tried to turn a double play.

Covington responded in the top of the sixth when they banged back-to-back one singles, but once again the Rockets threw some serious leather on the purple and yellow clad Chargers when Drew Daughrity made a great diving catch towards the left field foul line and Mealer struck out the next batter to squelch the scoring threat.

Daughrity started the all-important two-out rally in the home half of the inning when he reached on another Covington error and Ferguson followed with a single down the right field line that sent Daughrity to third and Ferguson to second on the throw.

Jaylen Smith went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored in the Rockets’ 5-3 win over the Chargers.

On a two-strike pitch, Smith laced a single down the right field line that plated both runners to give the Rockets a big 5-2 lead.

“I was trying to get the ball in a hole so we could score the two runners,” Smith said. “It was a big win, they were ranked number one in the state, so we just showed them who the best team in the state is.”

The Smith hit was huge as the Chargers came up with one run in the top of the seventh inning and had two runners on base with one out before Mealer induced a pair of infield pop-outs to end the game and give the Rockets their fourth straight postseason win in a row and remain in the winner’s bracket.

“I don’t think it matters who we play right now,” Mealer said. “It amazing, we always have fight and never give up.”

Covington 000 020 1-3 8 4

Forrest 000 122 X-5 8 0

Covington: Sterling Lomax 2-for-3, Griffin Warmath 1-for-4, James Howard 1-for-2, Robeson Hendrin 1-for-2, Weston Martin 1-for-3, Benton Glass 1-for-3, Christian Delashmit 1-for-1.

RS: Lomax, Martin, Joshua McGarity.

RBI: Lomax 2, Warmath.

2B: Lomax, Glass.

3B: Lomax.

HBP: Cole Howard.

SB: Lomax.

CS: Ty Warmath.

Team LOB: 6


E: Martin 2, Warmath, Austin Baskin.

LP: Christian Delashmit (6IP, 9H, 5R, 4ER, 7K, 2BB).

Forrest: Jaylen Smith 2-for-3, J.T. Ferguson 1-for-4, Dylan Eady 1-for-3, Dustin Brashear 1-for-4, Ethan Mealer 1-for-3, Grayson Whaley 1-for-2, Blaize Sweeney 1-for-3.

RS: Ferguson, Smith, Eady, Whaley, Drew Daughrity.

RBI: Smith 2, Mealer, Sweeney.

2B: Blaize Sweeney, Grayson Whaley

RBI: Ethan Mealer 2, Jaylen Smith 2, Blaize Sweeney

SAC: Whaley.

ROE: Ferguson, Ryan Moses, Daughrity.

FC: Brashear, Daughrity, Mealer

Team LOB: 8

WP: Ethan Mealer (7IP, 8H, 3R, 3ER, 11K, 0BB).