The expanded high school baseball schedule is giving the scene in Forsyth County a more inclusive atmosphere.
North Forsyth beat Pinecrest 4-1 at home on Friday night to close out the Raiders’ non-region schedule. It wasn’t exactly an aggressively scheduled tune-up for North, a Class 7A squad facing the 1A Paladins, but the arrangement worked out favorably for both schools, particularly the smaller one.
“It’s a good program,” Raiders head coach Jim Cahill said. “(Head coach) Ryan (Weingart)’s got those guys headed in the right direction. We wanted to establish that they’re part of our county. I wish everybody would play them.”
The Raiders were by almost every measure the superior team on Friday: They rapped out six hits to Pinecrest’s five, made better use of the runners they got on base and got superior pitching from Caelan Thomas and Tyler Fairchild. Much of the Paladins’ offensive posturing came with help from the five errors that North made.
The Paladins consistently put the ball in play, though, striking out just five times, and solid pitching helped keep the Raiders’ bats contained.
“We had three hard balls that were just right to people,” Weingart said. “If those drop, this is a completely different ballgame.”
The Paladins stayed largely competitive in both its games against 7A opponents this year, the first time Weingart can remember the program every stretching beyond its 1A bounds. Thanks to the four extra games schools get this year, the Paladins can do that.
They fell 10-4 to the Forsyth Central on Feb. 23, leading 2-1 for three innings before allowing a four-run outburst in the fourth and five more in the seventh.
“Their smallest guy is about as big as our biggest guy,” Weingart said. “So there’s always that that you have to get out of your system when you first show up with them, but we just told the guys, ‘This is a 7A school, but they’re human beings, too.’”
Pinecrest went into the contests with bigger schools with hopes for a win, but even the losses had a positive slant for the young group, as Weingart saw it.
“Once they see that they can compete with (the bigger schools), it opens their eyes a little bit more,” he said. “And it helps when we play our region games. We just played a 7A school and we hung with them the entire time. What greater things can we do when we play the small schools?”
North’s record improved to 7-5 with the win. They open the Region 5-7A schedule on Monday against South Forsyth. Pinecrest fell to 5-5 with the loss, and while they begin region play against schools of similar size next week, the Paladins have one more game against a bigger school, facing White County of Class 4A on March 31.