By Caleb Byrd
For the Forsyth County News
Denmark defeated North Forsyth 4-3 on a walk-off line drive late Friday night to keep its playoff hopes alive.
JJ Corr battled at the plate against Andrew Elkhill late in the bottom of the 7th, who North had brought in to relieve Michael Sills after a strong six-inning performance.
Now the game was on the line, and Elkhill had already given up a hit to Nic Ferrer, who stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch.
Every pitch carried with it the possibility of a walk-off as Elkhill hurled it over the plate. There was no room for error.
Corr waited patiently for his chance, and when Elkhill threw a fastball chest-high over the right side of the plate, he slapped it over second baseman Josh Zirlott’s head into right field.
The Denmark bench exploded, and the Danes rushed Ferrer as he crossed home plate for the win.
“It was a great job by the team tonight eliminating damage,” Denmark coach Jamie Corr said. “You know, we came out and gave them a couple early in the first inning, but then after the one run in the second, we put up five zeros in a row. And that was attributed to not only Smaran [Ramanathan] but the great defense behind him. I mean our outfield played tremendous running everything down.”
Ramanathan pitched a strong 6 ⅓ innings for the Danes, throwing 76 pitches with 55 strikes, four strikeouts, and giving up only one run. Ramanathan took the mound with two outs, after two runs had been given up, and the bases loaded late in the first inning to relieve a rough start from Drew Clare.
“It was an incredible job by Smaran stepping up and giving us a long relief outing,” Corr said. “Drew Clare went out there and gave it his best, but just couldn’t find it tonight. But Smaran was ready and was there for his team.”
The Danes came up with clutch hits and stayed smart on the basepaths when it counted the most. After a relatively quiet five innings at the plate, the bats of Teddy Davenport, Connor McGinn, Sammy Leis, Nic Ferrer, Jake Meyers, and JJ Corr came alive to put together an exciting comeback win.
“You know, with Teddy Davenport coming up with the big, clutch shot there,” said Corr. “And then Jake Meyers delivering a great RBI there, and then of course to end the game like that with JJ, after having a tough couple at-bats to start the game, and not getting down on himself, knowing that you see a good pitch and do what you can with it, and he was able to come through in the end.”
After heating up with two runs early in the first inning, North went all but silent from the plate, save for a sacrifice fly from Tyler Triche that scored Coby Hunt in the second inning. The Raiders couldn’t find a groove, leaving the scoreboard with zeros for the next four innings.
“We had a successful week,” North head coach Jim Cahill said. “We went 2-1 this week, so it was a pretty successful week. You know, obviously, it’s a pretty tough loss. Bottom of the seventh losses are never easy, but they [Denmark] did a good job, battled, and took advantage of some mistakes we made and that was really the difference.”
Michael Sills, the Raiders’ starting pitcher, did everything he could to keep North’s lead. Sills battled for six innings, throwing 105 pitches with 70 strikes and six strikeouts. A few walks and wild pitches from Sills, and a few clutch hits from the Danes tied the game up 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth, Sills’ last inning.
“We’ve got Lambert on Monday, and this region is hard,” Cahill said. “You know, we had to beat them [Denmark] twice, and it’s hard to beat somebody three times. So it’s a new week, and we’re excited. We just gotta win one or two next week.”
The Raiders (16-12, 9-7 Region 6-7A) are still in the fight for first place in Region 6-7A, and head into two straight away games next week against Lambert and South Forsyth.
The Danes (12-14, 9-6 Region 6-7A) are one step closer to catching a playoff spot, and will face off with Gainesville away on Monday, finishing up with two home games against South Forsyth and West Forsyth.