Rockets fight to the very end before falling on walk-off home run
Forrest’s state tournament run ended in dramatic fashion Thursday afternoon when Greeneville’s Jacques Gillespie-Taylor belted a three-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Greene Devils a 7-5 win over the Rockets.
“In the end we stuck with our game plan….fight, grind, and play with that heart and that’s what they did,” Forrest coach Bart Joyce said. “That’s what they did through that last out and at the end of the day, they never let up, not one second and this coaching staff is more than proud of the way they did things, from the first pitch of the season to right now.”
The setback was Forrest’s only elimination game loss in the postseason.
“7-1 in elimination games, what can you say,” Joyce said. “That says it all right there of how we played and how proud this coaching staff is of these guys and how they gave it all they got.”
Greeneville (26-11-1) faces Decatur County-Riverside (26-9-1) in the Class AA title game today at 4:30 p.m. at MTSU's Reese Smith Jr. Field.
A determined Forrest squad came out swinging in the Spring Fling XV winner’s bracket final at Blackman High School in Murfreesboro, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning via a two-run double by Dustin Brashear and RBI singles by Ethan Mealer and Blaize Sweeney.
The Rockets’ final run of the season came in the top of the fourth inning when Jaylen Smith drew a two-out walk before scoring from first base on a Dylan Eady double down the left field line.
Forrest sophomore Cody Sisk started on the hill for the Rockets and turned in a yeoman’s effort, tossing 4.1 innings and he exited the game holding a 5-1 lead with runners on second and third base and one out.
Senior Lane Allen came to the mound and an infield error plated both runners to make it 5-3 before Allen got out of the inning without any further damage.
Forrest wasted a leadoff single by J.T. Ferguson in the top of the sixth inning and Allen faced just four batters in the bottom of the frame that ended when Allen struck out Jake Goodwin looking on a wicked curveball.
Greeneville’s freshman winning pitcher Ayden Cheney, who came on with one out in the first inning set down the Rockets 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh inning.
Allen whiffed the first batter he faced in the bottom seventh before back-to-back singles by Dalton McLain and Augustus Frailey.
Forrest made a pitching change as Sweeney came to the mound and gave up an RBI single to Jordan Idell before Gillespie-Taylor’s blast ended the game and ended this Rockets’ senior class’ remarkable four-year run.
“You get deep in the pitching staff in a tournament like this and Sisk comes off the bench and throws an excellent game,” Joyce said. “And the senior behind him Lane Allen, what can you say man, he kept them off-balance and he gave it everything he had on the mound and Sweeney came in and we just fell a little short today and that happens.”
“That’s a great hitting ball team (Greeneville) when they square it up, they know how to hit and those guys are very good hitters,” Joyce said. “Greeneville has a good ballclub and the coaching staff coaches them well.”
The Class of 2018 consisting of Allen, Brashear, Smith, Ferguson, Eady, Drew Daughrity, Jarvis Lyttle, and Logan Cedatol posted a 94-46-1 overall record and won four consecutive region titles, three district crowns, and made two state appearances.
Their record speaks for itself and the Rockets have a great returning nucleus and plenty of young talent to continue to build on that great success.
“When you get in that postseason baseball it’s a different atmosphere,” Joyce said. “Every game is a one run, two run game and these young guys have learned a tremendous amount these last two or three weeks since the district tournament and I’m super proud of all 25 of these guys and I can’t wait till next year.”
The Rockets had nine hits in the game with Mealer leading the way with a 3-for-4 effort at the plate, while Ferguson, Smith, Eady, Brashear, Grayson Whaley, and Sweeney all had one hit apiece.
Forrest 400 100 0-5 9 2
Greeneville 000 120 4-7 8 0
Forrest: Ethan Mealer 3-for-4, J.T. Ferguson 1-for-3, Jaylen Smith 1-for-3, Dylan Eady 1-for-4, Dustin Brashear 1-for-4, Grayson Whaley 1-for-2, Blaize Sweeney 1-for-3.
RS: Smith 2, Ferguson, Brashear, Mealer.
BB: Smith, Whaley.
2B: Brashear, Eady, Mealer.
RBI: Brashear 2, Eady, Mealer, Sweeney.
FC: Drew Daughrity.
HBP: Ferguson, Whaley.
Team LOB: 7
E: Smith, Mealer.
LP: Lane Allen (2IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 2K, 1BB), Cody Sisk (4.1IP, 4H, 3R, 2ER, 2K, 1BB), Blaize Sweeney (0.0IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 0K, 0BB).
Greeneville: Augustus Frailey 2-for-4, Jordan Idell 2-for-3, Dalton McLain 1-for-4, Jacques Gillespie-Taylor 1-for-4, Avery Collins 1-for-2, Jake Goodwin 1-for-3.
RS: Frailey 2, McLain, Gillespie, Idell, Goodwin, Newton.
BB: Idell, Collins.
HR: Frailey, Gillespie-Taylor.
RBI: Gillespie-Taylor 3, McClain 2, Frailey, Idell.
ROE: McClain, Caleb Norris.
FC: Fraley, Bryce Buchanan.
Team LOB: 5
WP: Ayden Cheney (6.2IP, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 2K, 2BB), Braden Spano (0.1IP, 2H, 3R, 3ER, 0K, 0BB).