North Forsyth coach Jim Cahill was perplexed after his team’s sluggish performance in a 4-1 home loss to Alpharetta on Monday.
How could his team, which had won five straight, come out flat against a region opponent that had already beaten them once?
"I wish I could tell you," Cahill said. "We didn’t have much energy, didn’t swing the bats very well, didn’t run the bases very well, didn’t play defense very well."
Alpharetta starter Bryce Conley was a big part of the reason for North’s offensive woes. Conley went seven strong innings, allowing just one run on five hits. He struck out seven and walked two, leading Alpharetta to a season sweep of North.
Conley got out of a jam in the second inning with a strikeout of Harris Roberts.
In the third, after North put runners on first and second with no outs, Conley induced a double play from Michael Henderson and struck out cleanup hitter Tyler Welch to end the threat. And in the sixth, he snuffed out another North rally by getting Griffin Caracciolo to fly-out with runners on first and second.
Roberts had a sacrifice fly that scored Welch in the sixth for North’s only run.
North (12-9, 5-4 Region 6-AAAAAA) starting pitcher Chris Vincent was hit hard, but kept his team in the game. He allowed four runs — three earned, on nine hits in seven innings.
He struck out seven and walked one, but also committed two of North’s three errors.
Alpharetta (10-11, 4-5) scored two in the first inning on a sacrifice fly from Josh Dobbs. Dobbs scored later in the inning from third, racing home while Tyler Keely was caught in a run-down between first and second.
"Getting those two early runs relaxed us in the dugout a little," said Alpharetta coach Steve Bohn, who had lamented his team’s lack of hitting before the game. "We’ve put the ball in play this season, but just not with a lot of power sometimes. We had 17 groundouts earlier against Lambert, but didn’t strike out once. Today, we put some good swings on the ball. And we always have a lot of confidence with Bryce on the mound."
Alpharetta tacked on two more runs in the fifth, with Dobbs driving in another run on an RBI groundout. Courtesy runner Adam Schildhammer later scored from third on an errant pick-off throw from Vincent.
Conley and Keely each had two hits, and Dobbs finished with two RBIs.
Tony Papale went 2-for-3 with a double for North, and Brant Stark added a base hit.
North heads into today’s game against last-place Centennial in a log jam in the middle of the region. West Forsyth and South Forsyth are also 5-4.
"This region is tight. It’s going to be tight," Bohn said. "There are good teams in this region. Everybody has some pitching. It’ll just be who hits the ball and who plays defense."
Cahill urged his team not to let the loss linger and said he’d remind them of that during Tuesday’s practice.
"We can’t take anyone for granted, not how we played today," Cahill said.
"They know that."