By MacKenzie Bates
For the Forsyth County News
Forsyth Central senior pitcher Jacob Ryan had a little bit of everything going for him during the Bulldogs' 6-2 win at Alpharetta on Wednesday.
Ryan tossed four innings in relief, giving up one run on five hits and striking out nine to hand the Raiders their first loss of the season and put Central at 2-2.
“Fastballs,” Ryan said on what pitches were working for him. “We added a few sliders in there to make them chase a couple.”
The Bulldog pitchers threw a stellar game. Starting pitcher Mitchell Gross was dealing early. After giving up a leadoff walk and hitting a batter in the first inning, the senior retired six straight. Gross pitched three innings, giving up one run on one hit and striking out five batters. Ryan did the rest.
“He threw the ball well and threw strikes (43 on 69 pitches),” Central coach Kevin McCollum said. “He battled through it. It’s still early. We’re trying to get pitch counts up before region play. It was probably little more than we wanted, but we’re happy that he was able to finish this one out.”
Central’s bats came alive in the second inning. After Gross drew a leadoff walk and Ryan Gamble reached on an error, left fielder Stevie Lyons ripped a single to right field to score a run. A few batters later, second baseman Greg Tasos hit a bases-clearing double that gave the Bulldogs a 4-0 lead.
“You’d like to see a couple of more runs after that but they helped us out there on the (error) and got things going a little bit,” McCollum said. “Lyons did a good job with two strikes. Tasos got a good swing on the fastball after that.”
The Bulldogs' infield was dialed in all evening. They forced three rundowns, including two in the third inning to help preserve the lead. Central pushed across two runs in the top of the fifth inning on a wild pitch by Andrew Ford and an infield error.
A.J. Fiechter was 2-for-3 on the night. Tasos and Lyons had the other hits.
Alpharetta began a rally in the bottom of the sixth inning. Bryce Troutt hit a leadoff double and came home on a single by Josh Maicon in the next at-bat. Ryan would then strike out the side to end the threat.
The Raiders threatened again in the final frame. Ajinkya Gundaria hit a leadoff single, and two batters later Jack Barone hit a double to put two runners in scoring position with only one out. Ryan slammed the door with two strikeouts on the next three batters, though.
“By far, that’s the best two pitchers we’ve seen this year,’ Alpharetta coach Marc Lassiat said. “The reason we schedule these games is to get ready for our region schedule next week. Both threw the ball firmly.”