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Golden Lions out-slug Central
Five-run fifth lifts St. Pius X in Dawgs’ home opener
FCHS baseball 3 es
Forsyth Central’s Jon Freeman makes contact with a pitch during a plate appearance in the Bulldogs’ game against St. Pius X on Thursday at Central. - photo by Emily Saunders
Forsyth Central went back and forth with St. Pius X in the Bulldogs’ home opener Thursday, ultimately scoring two runs in the bottom of the seventh and bringing the winning run to the plate.

Missed chances eventually made their mark, though, as the late rally came up short and Pius escaped with a 7-6 win.

“It allows us to be in a close game, gives us some experience there,” Central coach Kevin McCollum said.

“If we’d taken advantage of some opportunities and did some things better defensively earlier in the game, we might not have been in that situation at the end of the game.”

Missed chances were a recurring theme for both teams, actually. Central stranded 10 base-runners on the night, with another caught stealing, while Pius loaded the bases in three of the first four innings, with only two runs to show for it.

The turning point came in the top of the fifth, when the Golden Lions came up with five runs. Pius entered the fifth down 3-2, after Central had shaken off a 2-0 deficit to take the lead.

With the Bulldogs on their third pitcher of the night in Brent Ledford, the Lions finally broke through with three hits, a walk and two sacrifice RBI.

Central also helped Pius out a little, with a held ball on a flyout and an attempted pickoff at first that got through the bag allowing runners to score from third.

“Tonight and last night (in an 11-8 loss at Creekview), we’ve given up quite a few runs, just given them to them, so we’ve got to continue to work on defense,” McCollum said, citing bunt coverage, first-and-third coverage, and routine fielding plays as areas needing work.

The Lions exited their half of the fifth up 7-3, but Central wasn’t finished.

The Dawgs got one back in the bottom of the fifth, when first baseman Trey Mills came up with a single with two men on, scoring Chad Thomason.

Mills also came up big in the bottom of the seventh. Thomason had gotten a hard hit to left for a stand-up double two batters earlier, and Mills came to the plate with the Dawgs down to their last out, launching a high, arcing double to right to score Thomason and making the score 7-5. A pair of wild pitches from closer Adam Hall during Doug Scherer’s ensuing at-bat allowed Mills to steal third, then to come home, pulling Central within a run.

The comeback ran out of steam, however, as Hall struck out Taylor Bradford with Scherer on second to end the game.

In addition to Mills, Bradford (2-for-4, run scored) and Dustin Canon (3-for-4, RBI) had good nights at the plate and along the basepaths for Central.

Hall, Michael Henderson, Jeff Gunn and Tom Clarke all ended up with two hits apiece for Pius. Andrew Mabini had two RBI for the Lions.

“I think we have a lot of upside, but there’s a lot of things we need to still work on,” McCollum said.

“That’s the one nice thing about this year, we have a lot of upside, a lot of room to grow, and we’ve got until about the middle of March to grow, to get ready for region.”

Central was set to play its third game in as many days Friday, taking on Dawson County in Dawsonville.

E-mail BJ Corbitt at