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Baseball: Forsyth Central grabs late lead to defeat Alpharetta

The Forsyth Central baseball team initially was supposed to host Alpharetta, but due to the Bulldogs' field not being in top-notch shape in time to play, Central opted to play at Alpharetta.

The Bulldogs still executed the game plan by scoring four runs in the eighth inning for a 10-9 victory Monday night.

Jake Walther started the game, but it was Tyler McNew who got the win for the Bulldogs, as he struck out three. Andrew Gardiner and Brycen Wagoner came on in relief to help close out the game.

“I thought the pitchers did a good job throwing strikes and being competitive on the mound,” Bulldogs head coach Kevin McCollum said on what he enjoyed seeing.

Alpharetta started the ballgame strong.

Braden Wudi had a chance to score the first run of the day at third base, but Brandon Semple’s contact with the ball landed in the mitt of a Raider for a pop out.

Switching defense to offense the Raiders got on the board first when the batter hit the ball high in the air in no man's land for a double and two RBIs. Shortly after, Alpharetta recorded a sac fly and an RBI to bump the lead to 3-0.

Daniel Smith stole second base once he saw the ball bounce out of the Alpharetta catcher's mitt. Then the Raiders threw a pitch that went past the catcher, and Smith took a gamble by running with a head full of steam to third and slid to home plate to collect the Bulldogs' first run.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Central shined the most.

UGA commit Josh Gibbs got it started with a bouncing ball that traveled towards the left side of the field for a single. Then Gibbs gambled by stealing second and third to put himself in a position to score. It was Abhay Raheja’s RBI single that cut the Bulldogs' deficit to 4-2.

Central placed Gardiner on the mound, and he worked together with the defense to retire the inning quickly, with a fly out, pop out and strikeout.

Gibbs put his team on his back in the fifth inning. At his plate appearance, he swung his bat and the ball traveled far enough to get base runners Alex Hernandez and Landon Barr to home plate to tie the game at 4-4.

However, Alpharetta responded with two runs of its own to retake the lead, 6-4.

It was Central’s turn to fire back, and Semple did just that. At the plate, he made contact and put the ball in the air where the Raiders had to run to get it. Meanwhile, Smith and Wudi accelerated to home plate for the Bulldogs to tie the game once again.

Cam Yeager came through in the eighth inning. With runners on, he hit the ball with power towards center field, and the Bulldogs cheered as Barr and Semple reached home plate.

The Bulldogs didn’t stop there.

When Koby Balthazor stepped to the plate, he didn’t take long to settle in, as he poured in an RBI. Then Yeager raced to home plate for a 10-6 lead.

Gibbs and Yeager each collected two hits and two RBIs to lead Forsyth Central. Gibbs and Smith led the team in runs scored with two each.

Alpharetta (2-1) had one more shot on offense if the Raiders wanted to keep their unbeaten start alive.

The Bulldogs had a tough time throwing accurately to first baseman Hernandez. Three inaccurate throws resulted in three runs and built up Alpharetta's confidence, as the hosts cut the deficit to 10-9.

The Central defense, though, was clutch to secure the victory by recording the final out.

“A year ago, we probably would’ve given the game away," McCollum said, "so I'm glad the guys finished it out and won."

Forsyth Central (2-0) will return to action Feb. 14, when they face Pope.