The Forsyth Central team’s batting order this year could be described as inconsistent, or fluid, or flexible, or any other word to reflect the reality that, well, it’s changed a lot.
Various factors have contributed to that. Apart from Luke Sutko and Daniel Henderson, experience isn’t bountiful in the Bulldogs’ lineup. They don’t have a speedster that would naturally slot into the leadoff slot or nine-hole.
And before their game on Friday against North Forsyth, an errant throw during warmups forced another change when it hit Jacob Holton in the face, sent him to the hospital and created a hole in the fifth spot of the order.
That wound up being where most of Bulldogs’ offense came from, as Greg Wozniak, who moved up from sixth, hit two home runs and had five RBIS to lead Central to a 6-2 win, its third of the week over North.
“I think we’ve got something good going right now,” Wozniak said.
Holton was alert after getting hit and “more mad that it happened,” Bulldogs head coach Kevin McCollum said. The impact did result in a broken cheekbone, though.
Holton’s absence also wasn’t the only hiccup in Central’s plans. Bulldogs starting pitcher Mitchell Gross set down the first three hitters he faced, but he allowed a leadoff single, hit two batters and walked another in the second inning to give North an early 1-0 lead.
Gross’ pitch count sat at more than 40 after that inning, so McCollum took him out in favor of Brian Brock, who threw four low-drama innings, allowing three hits and a run.
The Bulldogs’ first hit off North (8-13, 1-8 Region 5-7A) starter Brice Davis didn’t come until the fourth inning, but when it did, Central (12-10, 4-5 ) quickly piled on. Sutko hit Davis’ first pitch of the frame over the right-center field fence for a solo home run, and Henderson followed him with a double to left.
Wozniak came next. The junior said that he “used to be” a pull hitter, but attention and advice from college coaches encouraged him to adjust to a more all-fields approach.
What happened on Friday should be nothing but encouragement for Wozniak and his observers. His homer in the fourth came on a middle-away fastball and sailed over the fence just to the right of center field, scoring two runs. In the next inning, with Sutko and Parker Jones on base, Wozniak hit an almost identical pitch into an almost identical spot for a three-run shot.
“Coach told me to cut it loose this game,” Wozniak said. “So that’s what I tried to do.”
Alex Andrew got an easy save for Central. The Bulldogs came into the week tied for last in the region with a 1-5 record, but the series sweep has buoyed their confidence. They have three non-region games during spring break and six region matchups after that.
Whether the lineup will find some stability remains to be seen.
“We’re still tinkering a little bit,” McCollum said. “This is probably the most I’ve ever changed the lineup around.”