Riverwood had the momentum early, retiring the first 10 batters it faced, but an offensive assault in the final three innings changed the story of the game in Forsyth Central’s 9-1 victory, completing the regular season sweep after extra-inning wins over the Raiders Monday and Wednesday.
After Josh Messe tied the game with an RBI double, Pierce Nufer gave Central a 3-1 lead in the fourth with a two-run homerun to deep center. Wade Smith had a bases-clearing triple in the sixth frame to pad the lead at 7-1.
Central (9-4, 8-1 Region 7-AAAAA) now owns a six-game winning streak that dates back to its March 16 win at Sprayberry.
Head coach Kevin McCollum thinks his red-hot Bulldogs have plenty of work to do—evident in their slow start at the plate.
“We’re not playing the greatest baseball yet,” McCollum said.
Aside from the team struggling early on with the bats, Meese had three fielding errors at third base in the first few frames, and Riverwood put early pressure on starting pitcher Parker Morrison. Morrison didn’t help himself, hitting two batters by pitch. Still, only one run crossed the plate for the Raiders.
“We have not put together all three parts of the game. We’ve won some ugly ones, but the one thing that has been continuous has been the kids have battled," McCollum said.
After Smith’s big triple, he came home when Robbie Repasz knocked the ball loose from the glove of Jalen Miller while stealing second. Miller, a signee with Clemson University and expected to be selected in this year’s Major League Baseball draft, was thrown out of the contest moments later after arguing with an umpire.
Taylor Bauman brought home Repasz on a double two batters later for the game’s final run. Morrison held his own on the mound, going four innings with four strikeouts against four hits, while Ethan Hankins entered for relief through the final three innings, allowing no hits and recording two strikeouts.
Riverwood pitcher Travis Block pitched the entire contest, allowing nine hits and striking out six batters—though Block allowed zero hits and struck out three in the first three innings.
McCollum felt like his lineup adjusted well after seeing the lefty through the first hitting cycle.
“It seemed like the kids made some adjustments the second time through the lineup against the pitcher,” McCollum said. “He did a good job mixing it up and we were swinging at his pitches early in the game but I think we did a better job in the second half swinging at our pitches.”
Central continues region play against North Atlanta this week, with the first contest set for Monday at home. The Bulldogs also face the Spartans on the road Wednesday and back at home Friday.
Game Stats (Forsyth Central only)
P. Morrison (W): 4 IP | 4 H | 4 K | 0 BB
E. Hankins: 3 IP | 0 H | 2 K | 2 BB
P. Nufer, RF: 2-for-3, HR, 2 RBI
T. Bauman, SS: 2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI
W. Smith, 1B: 1-for-3, 3B, 3 RBI
J. Meese, 3B: 1-for-2, 2B, RBI
L. Howard, DH: 1-for-3, 2B
H. Bauman, C: 1-for-3
P. Biederer, CF: 1-for-4
R. Repasz, LF: 0-for-2
J. Phillips, 2B: 0-for-3