Baseball teams often succeed when a pitcher posts a high strikeout total during a game. If, on the other hand, that pitcher is forced to strike out five batters in one inning, it’s an indication that something is going awry.
Forsyth Central suffered from self-inflicted wounds throughout Friday night’s game against Sprayberry, but never more so than in the second inning. Bulldogs pitcher Reed Clark recorded five strikeouts in the top of the frame, but not before the Yellow Jackets scored six runs with the help of two errors, two passed balls and two wild pitches in a 10-3 victory over Central in Cumming.
Central (5-4, 1-2 Region 7-AAAAA) finished the game with seven errors and only two hits.
"You just can’t win games with seven errors and two hits," Central head coach Kevin McCollum said. "It’s [that] simple."
Sprayberry (2-5, 2-0) took a 2-1 lead into the second inning before tacking on six runs despite only delivering two hits.
Clark appeared to be out of trouble when he notched his third strikeout of the inning after surrendering two runs, but a passed ball by catcher Jake Nix kept Central in the field and allowed another run to score.
Sprayberry increased the lead to 6-1 when Clark was charged with a balk.
The pitcher appeared to be out of the inning again when he recorded his fourth strikeout on a pitch in the dirt, but Nix threw wide of first baseman Dee Kelly as he tried to finish the play, allowing two more baserunners to cross the plate.
The Yellow Jackets later increased the lead to 10-1 before the Bulldogs added a run in each of the final two innings.
"We’re not mentally tough [right now] and we’ve got to find a way to become mentally tougher," McCollum said. "It probably goes on my shoulders a little bit, so I’ll take the blame for that."
The loss came one day after the Bulldogs recorded their first region win of the year in a 3-0 victory over Kell in Kennesaw.
Senior left-hander Andrew Gist posted his second consecutive complete game shutout, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out 10 batters. Gist tossed a no-hitter in his previous start, a 6-0 win over Centennial, and would have recorded a perfect game if not for a Central fielding error.
"He’s consistent," McCullom said. "He throws strikes and doesn’t give up many walks. He has good stuff, that helps, but he goes right at guys."