Moses shuts down Champions in long awaited season opener
It was a long time coming.
The last time the Forrest Rockets played a baseball game was on March 12, 2020 when they beat Summertown 4-3 before the remainder of last season was shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It may have been also been a bit of deja vu for Forrest junior ace hurler Kain Moses, whose last trip to the mound came against Cascade in the season opener last year when he turned in a strong four innings of work to pick up a win.
On Tuesday night at Chapel Hill, Moses took the ball again versus the Champions in the season opener and this time he was even more dominating, tossing 4.1 innings of one-hit shutout baseball and striking out 12 and walking two Cascade batters in a 6-2 Forrest win.
“I have to say this is the most excited I have ever been to be able to play a baseball game,” Forrest coach Andy Burkett said. “The anticipation of waiting a long year like that and the way things ended and everything else, it’s just nice to be back out here and competing.”
“I just count my blessings that we will be able to continue playing the rest of the year the same way.”
Moses, who was on a pitch count on the mound, made his pitches count in the batter’s box as well, going 2-for-3 with a double, a run scored, one base on balls, and two stolen bases.
“I thought Kain threw the ball extremely well, he did exactly what he was supposed to do,” Burkett said. “He was on a pitch count of about 65 today and the next thing you know, he threw 65 and he was dominating and doing a great job.”
Forrest leadoff batter Cannon Cervantes was a terror at the plate and on the bases for the Rockets as the senior went 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs scored, and had six steals in the contest.
The Rockets did a lot of small ball dirty work, including a pair of sacrifice fly RBIs, a run-scoring squeeze play, seven bases on balls, and 13 stolen bases.
“It’s always been a trademark of Forrest baseball to be able to figure out a way to manufacture runs as best we can,” Burkett said. “We were able to do a variety of things and score runs in a variety of ways.”
“We didn’t have a lot of big hits today outside of Bowyers big double out there in the gap, so for me to look up there see we scored six runs off not a ton of hits, I have to be pretty pleased with that.”
Moses struck out two out of the four batters in faced in the top of the first inning before Cervantes went to work in the home half of the stanza, drawing a leadoff walk, stealing second and third and scoring on a wild throw.
Moses struck out the side in the top of the second inning and the Rockets stranded one runner in the home half.
Moses struck out the side in order again in the top of the third and the Rockets plated another run in the bottom of the inning behind Cervantes once again.
Cervantes slashed a leadoff base hit and stole second again. He went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by senior Max Kirby to make it 2-0.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Champions broke up the no-hitter when Ryan Inman stroked a base hit to left field, but Cascade failed to score.
The Rockets busted the game wide open in the home half of the frame as junior first baseman Braden Bowyer led off with a rope double over the center fielder’s head.
Junior Andrew Timmons followed with a base hit to right field and promptly stole second base to put runners on second and third.
After a strikeout, Justin Gillespie took the batter’s box and Burkett put on the squeeze that Gillespie executed to perfection as the senior left fielder laid down a beauty as Bowyer easily scored and there was no throw to first on the base hit.
Gillespie stole second base and on the throw down, Timmons scored from third base to make it a 4-0 ballgame.
Cervantes came up with another base hit to put Rockets on the corners before Forrest junior backstop Camden Vaughn drove in Gillespie with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Moses walked the first batter he faced in the top of the fourth and struck out the second before coming out of the game after 65 pitches and being replaced on the mound by Cervantes, who set down the next two Champion batters in order.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Forrest scored a run without a base hit as Moses, junior Bryson Smith, ‘rookie’ Brennan Mealer, and Gillespie all walked to produce the sixth run.
There was no scoring in the sixth inning and in the top of the seventh, Cascade finally got some offense going as Austin Harper led off with a base hit.
Adam Reeves followed with base hit to left field and unfortunately on the relay throw to second base, Harper slid in to the bag and suffered a severe ankle injury.
An ambulance came and Harper was taken off the field on a stretcher and everyone in Chapel Hill and Wartrace are hoping for a speedy recovery by the Cascade senior second sacker.
The Champions went on to plate two runs on a wild pitch and an RBI single by Hunter Lemmons before Kirby got a game ending strikeout.
“I thought we got a little sloppy towards the end of the game and with that layoff it is what it is as far as that goes, but all-in-all, I’m pretty happy with our performance,” Burkett said.
The Rockets have a tough non-conference schedule before opening up District 12-AA play on March 29 when they travel to Giles County.
Forrest has games with Fairview, Cornersville, Columbia, Pope John Paul II, Lewis County, and Clarksville Northwest before their meeting with the Pulaski Bobcats.
“We have some good competition lined up for us and we will see what some of these different arms that we got are going to be able to do and give some guys some opportunities on the mound and see what kind of dogs we got and competitors we got,” Burkett said.
Cascade 000 000 2-2 4 0
Forrest 101 310 X- 6 7 0
Cascade: Ryan Inmon 1-for-2, Austin Harden 1-for-2, Hunter Lemmons 1-for-3, Logan McDonald 1-for-3.
BB: Blaise Presley, Inman, Harden, Chance Brown.
RS: Jayden Burns, Brown.
SB: Harden 3, Brown.
Team LOB: 6
LP: Tyler Knight (3.1IP, 6H, 5R, 5ER, 8K, 3BB).
Relief: Zander Fairar (1.1IP, 0H, 1R, 1ER, 0K, 4BB).
Relief: Zach Crosslin (1.1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0K, 0BB).
Forrest: Cannon Cervantes 2-for-3, Kain Moses 2-for-3, Braden Bowyer 1-for-2, Andrew Timmons 1-for-2, Justin Gillespie 1-for-2.
BB: Cervantes, Camden Vaughn, Moses, Bryson Smith, Bowyer, Brennan Mealer, Gillespie.
RS: Cervantes 2, Moses, Bowyer, Timmons, Gillespie.
2B: Bowyer, Moses.
RBI: Gillespie 2, Vaughn, Kirby.
SB: Cervantes 6, Bowyer 2, Moses 2, Timmons 2, Gillespie.
Team LOB: 8
WP: Kain Moses (4.1IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 12K, 2BB).
Relief: Cannon Cervantes (2.1IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 3K, 1BB).
Relief: Max Kirby (0.1IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 1K, 1BB).