DALLAS — Forsyth Central fell in the Class 7A Final Four on Monday, dropping two games to North Paulding.
“It was a lot of fun,” Central head coach Kevin McCollum said. “These kids are great. They played hard all year. We’ve had our ups and downs, but it seems like everybody learned lessons from the games we lost and came up a little bit short tonight.”
Central lost Game 1 8-3 and Game 2 6-3. The Bulldogs scored the first run in both games Monday night.
In Game 1, Stevie Lyons hit a double in the second inning that drove in Tyler Smith.
Aaron Turner started game on the mound for the Bulldogs and shut the Wolfpack out through the first two innings, but North Paulding took the lead in the third inning and then added three more runs off Turner in the bottom of the fourth to take a 5-1 lead.
The Bulldogs put two more runs on the scoreboard, one driven in by AJ Fiechter and the other on a passed ball. North Paulding’s Dylan Rhadans pitched the complete game for the Wolfpack.
Central changed into their cream uniforms and Region 6-7A Player of the Year Will Robbins took the mound for Central in Game 2.
He pitched three shutout innings before being removed from the game in the beginning of the fourth inning.
Central had a 3-0 lead at the time thanks to leadoff walks to Fiechter and Jesse Duong. Robbins drove in Fiechter on a ground ball and Duong scored on a passed ball.
Duong also drove in the third run for the Bulldogs in the second inning off a bases-loaded walk. Fiechter and Duong both walked their first three at-bats of the game.
Hunter Darke pitched in relief for the Bulldogs, allowing four runs through three innings of work.
Trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Bulldogs had runners on second and third. FIechter sent a fly ball to right field, scoring Jack Carnes to tie the game 4-4.
However, once the play was over, the Wolfpack catcher checked to see if Carnes had tagged too early, and the umpire called him out. Carnes was out and the inning was over with the Bulldogs still down by one run.
Jackson Boswell pitched the seventh inning, allowing two earned runs, and the Bulldogs were unable to cross any runs in the seventh.
“I think we gave up too much free stuff in Game 1,” McCollum said. “In Game 2, we just stopped scoring runs. We got a couple early, but then they shut us out the rest of the way. We had opportunities, but we didn’t get the key hits that you need.”
The Bulldogs graduate 19 seniors off of their roster at the season’s end. The Bulldogs finish this season with an overall record of 24-15, advancing further than any Forsyth Central team in state tournament history.