Bats run cold in Forrest season opener

Friday, March 15, 2019
Blaize Sweeney had the only hit in the game for the Rockets, who dropped their season opener 3-0 versus MTCS at Chapel Hill Tuesday night.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Forrest Rockets hosted Middle Tennessee Christian School (MTCS) in their season opener Tuesday night and only managed one hit off two Cougar hurlers in a 3-0 loss.

Blaize Sweeney had a lone single in the bottom of the third inning off JD McCracken, who picked up the win for MTCS. McCracken tossed three innings and struck out eight and walked one Forrest batter.

“We couldn’t get the ball on the bat tonight,” Forrest coach Bart Joyce said. “That is two good pitchers we faced tonight, that left-handed kid and the second kid they brought in were very good pitchers, but we have to find a way to get it in play.”

“Game one, you know we got a little jitters and no doubt those guys will work hard and be back tomorrow and keep swinging.”

Adam Jamison came on to earn the save, pitching no-hit ball over the final four innings, while striking out four and walking one.

Grayson Whaley started on the hill for Forrest and gave up three runs (one earned) on three hits, while striking out three and issuing three bases on balls in 3.1 innings of work.

“He never settled in and that’s fine,” Joyce said. “Whaley is experienced on the mound and I know he will rebound from this and get back in it.”

“He just never could settle in, he never got comfortable on the mound and find the zone consistently, but I know he’ll bounce back from this and be in the strike zone next time.”

Cannon Cervantes came to the mound in relief for the Rockets in the bottom of the fourth inning and tossed 3.2 innings of shutout ball.

Cannon Cervantes came on in relief and halted the Cougars as he tossed 3.2 scoreless innings, striking out three and walking three.

Whaley set down the first two batters in the game before McCracken doubled to left field.

Branson Hull came in to run for the MTCS pitcher and took third base on a passed ball and Ben Durham drew a base on balls.

Jamison stepped in and drilled an RBI single to right field and the Cougars had the only run they needed.

Forrest stranded a pair of runners with one out in the bottom of the first and the Cougars added another run in the top of the second after Whaley issued one out back-to-back walks and threw a wild pitch before a run scored on a fielder’s choice RBI by Braden Smith.

Forrest first baseman Connor Lewis grabs a ground ball and flips to Grayson Whaley for the 3-1 putout in the third inning.

McCracken hit two Forrest batters and gave up the Sweeney single over his final two innings of work as the game went to the fourth inning.

Matthew George reached second base on a one-out throwing error by Forrest and Cervantes came to the hill.

George stole third base on a strikeout before Cade Carr laced a two-out single to centerfield for the final run of the game.

“When you play good teams and you give them that little inch right there, they will take it from you and they did a good job of that tonight,” Joyce said. “We didn’t make a play here and there and gave up a walk there and you know it cost us, but that’s baseball, you know that’s baseball and we will learn from those mistakes and get better.”

Rocket second-sacker Max Kirby squeezes a pop-up in the seventh inning.

The Rockets only managed three base runners for the remainder of the game and the onetime district rival Cougars moved to 2-0 on the season after beating Mt. Juliet Christian 14-0 on Monday.

Forrest graduated nine seniors last year that over the course of their four-year careers at Chapel Hill, posted a 94-36-1 record, won three district and region titles, and went to two Spring Flings, including a semifinal appearance last year where they lost to eventual Class 2A state champion Greenville.

“We are going to be working through a lot of things, but no doubt these 25 guys we got here and some with experience, we are going to learn,” Joyce said. “We are going to take every game and get better, take every practice and get better, and work on the things we need to work on and no doubt in my mind, these 25 guys are going to meet that challenge and get the job done for us.”

The Rockets have five more games to work out the kinks before District 12-AA begins when the Marshall County Tigers host the Rockets at Joe George Field in Lewisburg on Monday, March 25 at 6:30 p.m.

MTCS 110 100 0-3 6 1

Forrest 000 000 0-0 1 1

MTCS: Matthew George 2-for-3, Cade Carr 2-for-2, JD McCracken 1-for-3, Adam Jamison 1-for-3.

BB: Durham 2, Ross Prosser, Brock Culpeper, Carr.

RS: George, Culpepper, Branson Hull.

2B: McCracken.

RBI: Braden Smith, Jamison, Carr.

FC: Jamison, Smith.

GIDP: Jamison.

SB: George, Carr.

PIK: George.

Fielding

E: Smith.

WP: JD McCracken (3IP, IH, 0R, 0ER, 8K, 1BB).

Save: Adam Jamison (4IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 4K, 1BB).

Forrest: Blaize Sweeney 1-for-3.

BB: Brett Burnham, Ethan Mealer.

ROE: Grayson Whaley.

FC: Burnham.

HBP: Mealer, Cody Sisk, Gauge Anderson, Burnham.

SB: Burnham, John Randall Dippold.

Fielding

E: Mealer.

DP: Cervantes, Kirby.

LP: Grayson Whaley (3.1IP, 3H, 3R, 1ER, 3K, 3BB), Cannon Cervantes (3.2IP, 3H, 0R, 0ER, 3K, 3BB).