Nolensville topples Rockets to claim Region 6-AA title

Thursday, May 16, 2019
Spence Oliver makes the play for an out in foul territory in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Photo by Kathryn Holley

The Forrest Rockets (15-14-1) travelled to Nolensville (20-14) for the Region 6-AA Tournament title tilt Wednesday night with Forrest hoping to break a four-game losing streak to the Knights, but they were undone by strong pitching by the home team and costly errors to the tune of 8-2.

The loss sends the Rockets on the road to face the Sycamore War Eagles in Cheatham County for Friday night’s state sectional round, needing a win to advance to the TSSAA Spring Fling XXVI Class AA Baseball Tournament in Murfreesboro next week.

Starting on the mound for the Knights was the tall, hard-throwing, lanky Dawson Conder.

The visiting Rockets’ shortstop Brett Burnham led off the game and he slashed a ball that Knight’s right fielder Jackson Hill made a nice running catch for the first out.

Ethan Mealer got a board on an error with two outs, but Conder got Grayson Whaley on a pop-up for the third out.

Senior Grayson Whaley gave it all he had on the mound Wednesday night, giving up just three earned runs in the Rockets’ 8-2 loss at Nolensville in the Region 6-AA Tournament title game.
Tribune photo by Anthony S. Puca

On the mound, Whaley got the first out in the bottom of the first, but with the outfield pulled around to the left for right-handed Hill, the right fielder spoiled that strategy by lacing a ball down the right field line for a double.

The next batter, Carson Robble reached on an error putting runners on second and third.

Conder came to bat and slapped a single to right field, scoring Hill.

Forrest third-baseman Ethan Mealer puts the tag on a Nolensville baserunner for an out in the Rockets’ 8-2 loss Wednesday night in the Region 6-AA title game versus the Knights.
Photo by Kathryn Holley

After a line-out for out number two, Ethan Syling poked one up the middle to drive in Robble to give Nolensville a 2-0 lead.

The Rockets went quietly in the top of the second and a Tyler Smith single in the bottom of the inning was negated when Smith was gunned down trying to steal second by catcher Blaize Sweeney.

The top of the third saw the Rockets charge back, beginning with a two-out single by Burnham.

Spence Oliver holds a runner on first base for the Rockets, who fell 8-2 at Nolensville Wednesday night.
Photo by Kathryn Holley

Max Kirby then hit a screaming line drive that the Knights’ right-fielder misjudged as the ball sailed over his head as Burnham scored and Kirby slid safely into third.

“I was hunting a fastball, he was painting up the outside corner so I knew I had to hit it to right field,” Kirby said.

Kirby was left stranded on third base, but the Rockets now trailed 2-1.

In the bottom of the third inning Nolensville added to their lead.

After Rockets’ pitcher Whaley made a great play on a ball hit up the middle for the first out, things unwound for the pitcher.

“Some nights you just don’t have your best stuff, but you keep on fighting and hope to get some runs,” Whaley said.

First a base on balls, then a hit batsman placed runners at first and second.

Tyler Hammonds sent a line drive back towards the mound where it struck Whaley in the side and rolled toward third base.

Whaley recovered the ball, and on a bang-bang play at first got the runner for out number two before a muffed grounder to third and the second of the Rockets’ four errors on overthrown balls to first resulted in two more runs scoring.

A base hit by Brian Cluck scored another run as the Rockets’ right fielder juggled the ball before getting it back to the infield.

Whaley pitched out of the jam by striking out Tyler Hummel, but at the end of three innings it was Knights 5, Rockets 1.

In the top of the fourth with two outs, Spencer Oliver sent a ball to the fence in left field and Cannon Cervantes was hit by a pitch before Conder got out of the inning on a line drive to second base.

Whaley set the Knights down in order in the bottom of the fourth.

The Rockets fought back in the top of the fifth when Gauge Andersen doubled and came home on a two out base hit by Ethan Mealer to make it 5-2.

In the bottom of the frame, Rockets’ left fielder Cervantes made a great catch on a looping line drive by Conder and Whaley gave up a base hit and another error, but worked out of the jam with a fielder’s choice to stop the Knight from scoring.

The top of the sixth saw Forrest go down 1-2-3.

Aiden Young led off the home half of the sixth with a double, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, and scored on a ball that got away from Sweeney.

Hill coaxed a base on balls and Robble got on board with a base hit, sending Hill to third and Robble advanced to second on the throw.

Syling drilled a two-run single to open an 8-2 lead for Nolensville.

In the top of the seventh inning, the Rockets got a man on via a walk, but Tyler Hummel in relief of Conder, slammed the door shut and the ball game ended.

Forrest 001 010 0-2 5 4

Nolensville 203 003 X-8 9 1

Forrest: Brett Burnham1-for-4, Max Kirby 1-for-4, Ethan Mealer 1-for 3, Gauge Andersen 1-for-3, Spence Oliver 1-for-3.

BB: Cody Sisk.

RS: Burnham, Andersen.

RBI: Kirby, Mealer.

2B: Oliver, Andersen.

3B: Kirby.

ROE: Mealer.

FC: Grayson Whaley, Kirby.

LOB: 6

E: Burnham 2, Mealer, Kirby.

LP: Grayson Whaley (6IP, 9H, 8R, 3ER, 5K, 3BB).

Nolensville: Ethan Syling 2-for-4, Brian Cluck 1-for-4, Tyler Smith 1-for-3, Jackson Hill 1-for-3, Carson Robble 1-for 3, Dawson Conder 1-for-2, Tyler Hammonds 1-for-3, Aiden Young 1-for-3.

BB: Hill, Robble, Hammonds.

RS: Parker Price 3, Hill 2, Syling, Young.

2B: Hill, Young.

RBI: Conder 2, Syling 2, Cluck.

HBP: Conder.

ROE: Robble 2, Syling 2.

SB: Cluck.

CS: Smith

LOB: 7

Fielding:

E: Hammonds.

WP: Dawson Conder (6IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 8K, 0BB).

Save: Tyler Hummel (1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0K, 1BB).