By MacKenzie Bates
For the Forsyth County News
Denmark shortstop J.J. Corr was cold, much like the rest of the Danes and Forsyth Central. The temperature outside was 32 degrees after the sun went down. The game was in the 10th inning.
With a runner on second base, head coach David Smart gave him the sign.
Corr’s walk-off single to left field gave Denmark a 4-3 win over the Bulldogs in ten innings, marking the longest game in first-year program’s history.
“It felt good,” Corr said, of his first-ever walk-off hit. “I just happen to hit a ball solid, and it fell.”
With the game tied at 3-3 in the 10th inning, Denmark’s Jack Whitlock started the rally on a two-strike single. Catcher Carson Russell’s sacrifice bunt put Whitlock in scoring position before Tim Wilicky was called to pinch-run.
Corr stepped in to the right-handed batter’s box in the next at-bat and made contact.
“J.J.’s a good hitter,” Smart said. “That’s what you want in that situation. A guy is on second base and you’ve got a good guy at the plate. We trust him and sooner or later, somebody’s got to punch. Thankfully, he did.”
Despite the cold temperatures and the free baseball, Smart helped keep his team focused to come out with the victory.
“I just told our guys to keep playing,” Smart said. “Stay focused. We needed to take it one pitch at a time and keep playing the game.”
The Danes got on the board first. Logan DeLong, who reached on an error to start the bottom of the first inning, would come all the way around to score thanks to a few wild pitches. Forsyth Central would take a 2-1 lead in the second inning on three straight singles by Will Miller, Brandon Bick and Brady Hall.
Whitlock, who started the game for Denmark would then settle down, retiring 10 straight Bulldogs before giving up a bunt single to Chase Hillenbrand. Whitlock threw 5.1 innings, giving up two runs on five hits and two strikeouts.
“His first few innings were a little shaky, but then he settled in nicely,” Smart said. “Didn’t look like he was going to go more than three (innings). He got some really quick innings after that.”
The Danes would regain the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning on an RBI triple by first baseman Logan DeLong and a single by Matthew Cassandra in the next at-bat.
The Bulldogs would tie things back up on back-to-back doubles by Mitchell Gross and Will Miller to ultimately force extra innings.
Central's pitchers recorded 13 strikeouts, including 10 by reliever Ryan Gamble, who pitched four innings in relief of Will Meisner. Jack Carnes came in for Gamble to start the eighth inning. The Bulldogs could not overcome four errors in the field.
“All three of our pitchers did a good job,” Bulldogs head coach Kevin McCollum said. “We helped them out a little with some dropped balls in the field. We can’t do that in baseball games, especially close ones.”