Forsyth Central kept its season alive Wednesday night after losing the first of three games to Jones County in the second round of the 7-AAAAA state playoffs.
The Bulldogs responded to a 4-1 loss in the afternoon contest by jumping on the Greyhounds early in Game 2, taking a 4-0 lead in the first inning. Jones County battled back to make the score 6-5, but starting pitcher Logan Howard, who allowed just four hits, closed out the game—though it wasn't without nerves. Jones County had two runners on the bags, one in scoring position, as Howard forced the final out.
Central head coach Kevin McCollum admitted that Howard had to battle with a less than generous strike zone throughout the night, but overall his starting pitcher stayed composed and confident on the mound.
“It seems like if (Logan) threw the ball across the plate good things would happen for us,” McCollum said. “He threw it across the plate and our kids made the plays and battled through it. I don't think we played our best baseball today, but hopefully tomorrow we take advantage of it.”
Central had trouble in both games with popping out with runners on base. In Game 2, 12 of the team's 21 outs came on flyouts.
“We did a poor job of staying on top of the baseball,” McCollum said. “Maybe it's a credit to their pitchers of keeping pitches up and making us chase high fastballs, but it will be an emphasis in batting practice tomorrow.”
Taylor Bauman led off the second game with a double and came around to score on a bases-loaded walk before Wade Smith recorded three RBIs on a single that cleared the bags after an errant throw.
Jones County battled back with three runs in the bottom of the second, scoring two runs off an error and another after an RBI from Chandler Ramage.
But Bauman responded with an RBI double in the fourth, scoring Parker Morrison, before scoring on his own thanks to a double from Parker Beiderer. Another error allowed two runs to score in the bottom of the inning before the Bulldogs locked down to end the game.
McCollum believes his team has a shot as long as his team takes care of the little things.
“We had a Game 3 with Salem so it was kind of the same situation there you know. We just need to go out and play, and try to play a little bit better than we did today. Jones County is a good team. They threw strikes, they took advantage of mistakes our pitchers made and fought back,” McCollum said.
Howard finished with six strikeouts against five walks in a complete game and winning performance, while Bauman led the way in Game 2 with an RBI and two runs scored off of two doubles.
Reed Clark pitched all seven innings in Game 1, allowing no hits in the final four innings after giving up seven through three. Bauman scored Smith off a sacrifice for the Bulldogs' only run in the first contest.
Central and Jones County will face off at 6 p.m. Thursday, with the winner advancing to take on the winner of the Northgate-East Paulding series.