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Forsyth Central bats wake up to force Game 3
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Forsyth Central's dugout had plenty to cheer about in the Bulldogs' 8-3 victory against Salem in Game 2 of their Class AAAAA first round series Friday. - photo by Micah Green

Forsyth Central split its first round doubleheader with Salem in the Class AAAAA baseball playoffs Friday night to set up a decisive Game 3 on Saturday in a game that finished too late for this edition.

The first game was a pitcher’s duel. Salem sophomore Kevin Barham (CG, 1 H, 0 ER, 6 K, 6 BB) threw a complete game one-hitter to best Central senior Reed Clark (CG, 5 H, 2 ER, 7 K, 3 BB) and the Bulldogs to a score of 3-1 in eight innings.

“That kid from Salem, he was good,” Clark said.

Barham had a no-hitter through five innings as Central’s only run came on an errant throw to third scoring Josh Meese, who had reached base on a walk. Taylor Bauman doubled in the sixth to break up the no-hitter.

“[Barham] did a good job,” Central coach Kevin McCollum said. “We worked on approach all week, knew we were going to see a lefty throwing the ball on the outside part of the plate pretty firm and we didn’t do a real good job executing how we practiced.”

Clark pitched well in his own right and had a shutout going until Salem’s Cary Campbell hit an RBI single in the top of the sixth to score Akil Baddoo who had reached base on an earlier error by Clark.

“I felt like I threw well,” Clark said. “My team picked me up a lot, not as well at the plate, but I was commanding the zone with all three pitches. I threw as well as I could. It just wasn’t the outcome that I wanted.”

Salem was able to get two runs in the top of the eighth to break the 1-1 tie. Barham closed out the contest for Salem with two of the three outs in the bottom of the eighth coming via strikeout.

With their season on the line, Central came out swinging in Game 2. The Bulldogs had 12 hits in the game, including 10 in the first four innings. This offensive outburst propelled Central to an 8-3 win over Salem and kept their season alive for at least one more day.

The Bulldogs actually trailed early on after Jordan Johnson scored on a wild pitch by Central starter Logan Howard in the bottom of the second.

Down 1-0 and facing elimination, the Central bats awoke.

Bauman led off the inning with a walk. Parker Biederer followed that with his second single of the game. Two batters later, Messe hit an RBI single followed by another RBI single for Pierce Nufer to clear the bases and give Central a 3-1 lead.

The fourth saw Salem bring out a new pitcher but with the same results as all nine batters for Central had an at-bat during the inning.

Parker Morrison hit a double followed by back-to-back RBI doubles from Jacob Phillips and Bauman. Biederer closed out the scoring for the inning with an RBI sacrifice fly giving Central a healthy 7-1 lead after four.

That was more than enough run support for Howard (CG, 4 H, 2 ER, 9 K, 3 BB) who settled in after that early wild pitch.

Howard was able to follow up Clark’s strong pitching performance with one of his own while Salem’s Jordan Johnson (3 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 K, 2 BB) couldn’t match what Barham did in Game 1 for the Seminoles.

Morrison is expected to start Game 3 for Central which will be 1 p.m. Saturday at Forsyth Central.

“It really comes down I think for us for the most part if we throw strikes, we do a decent job in the field and we put the ball in play generally things are going to come out the way we’d like,” McCollum said. “That’s what we’re going to try to do tomorrow.”