Mealer shuts down Giles County, Rockets secure region berth
The Forrest Rockets were on the brink of elimination when they took on Giles County Tuesday night in the District 12-AA loser’s bracket final at Nolensville, but Chapel Hill ace Ethan Mealer took the mound and shutdown the Bobcats in a complete game, three-hit, 5-1 win.
“They came out rolling and fought hard, it was a tight ballgame for several innings,” Forrest coach Bart Joyce said. “Mealer did a great job and kept us in a position to win the ballgame.”
“We came out and strung some hits together, got the job done and secured our bid to go to the region, so we are all proud of them.”
The Columbia State Community college signee gave up zero earned runs while striking out 12, hitting three Giles County batters, and issuing one intentional walk.
“Mealer has pitched well throughout the tournament with two big starts and two big wins,” Joyce said.
With the win, Forrest secured a spot in the District 12-AA title game versus Nolensville and extended their season with a spot in Monday’s opening round of the Region 6-AA Tournament.
The Rockets had seven hits in the game with Brett Burnham and Gauge Anderson coming up with two hits apiece and Max Kirby, Spence Oliver, and Cannon Cervantes all had one safety apiece.
Mealer set down the Bobcats 1-2-3 in the first inning and the Rockets left two on with no outs in the bottom of the inning as Bobcat starting pitcher Will Hargrove kept them off balance with a nasty curve ball.
Mealer beaned Lucas Johnson to lead off the top of the second inning and Coleman Siniard followed with a base hit to put Bobcat runners on the corners.
Mealer whiffed the next two Giles County hitters and it looked like he would strike out the side, but a third strike to Sawyer Phillips went to the backstop and Johnson scored as Phillips beat the throw to first base.
Hargrove stepped up to the plate and drilled a shot to right field, but Anderson was on his horse and made a spectacular diving catch to end the inning.
Forrest threatened again in the home half of the stanza, but an inning ending line drive double play thwarted the scoring opportunity.
Mealer beaned two more Giles County batters in the top of the third inning and they stood on second and third base after a wild pitch with two outs, but Mealer got the final out on a called third strike.
Kirby lined a leadoff single to left field in the bottom of the inning and the tables turned when the Giles County catcher threw to first base on a dropped third strike and the throw sailed wildly in to the right field corner and Kirby came all the way around to score the tying run.
Both pitchers turned in a 1-2-3 fourth inning and the Bobcats left two on with two-out in the top of the fifth inning.
Burnham ripped a one-out single in the bottom of the inning and after a fly out to center, Mealer was hit by Hargrove pitch.
Devin Aydelot came in to run for the Forrest pitcher and Burnham stole second base before Grayson Whaley walked to load the sacks.
Hargrove hit Blaize Sweeney with a pitch to send Burnham to the plate with the eventual game winning run before the Rockets busted the game wide open on back-to-back base hits by Oliver and Cervantes to make it a 5-1 contest.
Mealer was zeroed in as he struck out the first two batters in the top of the sixth and got the third out on grounder to Oliver at third base.
Another line drive double play in the bottom of the sixth thwarted a Forrest scoring chance and the game went to the top of the seventh where Phillips led off with an infield single, but Phillips made a slight move to second on a low throw and he was tagged out by Whaley.
Mealer ended the game with a bang, striking out the final two Giles County batters to secure a region spot for the Rockets for the seventh consecutive season.
In that time span, Forrest has won three district tournament titles, four region titles, and have made three state tournament appearances where they posted a 2-6 record.
The Rockets are 5-7 all-time at the state tournament with their best finish in the 2005-2006 season when they went 3-1 and finished as Class A runner-up.
Forrest (14-12-1) travels to Creek Wood (24-6) on Monday with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m.
The Red Hawks blanked Lewis County 3-0 in the District 11-AA title game Wednesday night.
Lewis County (10-12) travels to Nolensville (18-14) on Monday.
Giles County 010 000 0-1 3 2
Forrest 001 040 X-5 7 0
Giles County: Lucas Johnson 1-for-2, Coleman Siniard 1-for-3, Sawyer Phillips 1-for-3.
RS: Dylan Carmen.
IW: Ben Peoples.
HBP: Carmen 2, Johnson.
E: Heath Herd, Carmen.
DP: Johnson 2, Herd 2.
LP: Will Hargrove (5.2IP, 6H, 5R, 4ER, 2K, 3BB).
Relief: Jerimiah Dudley (1.1IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1K, 0BB).
Forrest: Brett Burnham 2-for-4, Gauge Anderson 2-for-3, Max Kirby 1-for-2, Spence Oliver 1-for-3, Cannon Cervantes 1-for-3.
BB: Kirby, Grayson Whaley, John Randall Dippold.
RS: Burnham, Kirby, Whaley, Devin Aydelot, Ty Hengesbach.
RBI: Cervantes 2, Sweeney, Oliver.
HBP: Ethan Mealer, Blaize Sweeney.
LIDP: Burnham 2.
WP: Ethan Mealer (7IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 12K, 1BB).