North Forsyth is the hottest team in a region that features the No. 1 and No. 3-ranked teams in the state.
The Raiders won their fifth game in a row Friday, getting a game-winning, two-out RBI from Nick Aiken and a strong outing from starting pitcher Tyler Welch in a 3-2 victory over Chattahoochee at North.
With the game tied 2-2 in the sixth inning, Aiken hit a hanging curveball through the left side of the Cougars’ infield. Cory Campbell, who drew a walk to keep the inning alive, came around from second and scored the winning run on a head-first slide.
It’s the second straight one-run win for the Raiders (12-8, 5-3 Region 6-AAAAAA), who knocked off No. 1 Lambert, 5-4, Wednesday, by scoring the winning run on another close play at the plate.
North’s last loss came against No. 3 Johns Creek on March 27.
"We’re really confident right now," said Aiken, who drew two walks to go along with his game-winning RBI single. "We just have to stay positive and not beat ourselves with errors and mental mistakes."
Welch allowed one earned run on three hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked three, before turning it over to Dylan Powers, who was rock-solid in relief. Powers retired six of the seven Cougars he faced and set down the side in order on seven pitches in the seventh inning.
The Raiders jumped out to a 2-0 lead, capitalizing on some wildness from Chattahoochee starter Michael Dibrell in the second inning. Tony Papale led off the inning with a double, and Matthew Heard reached on catcher interference. Papale and Heard each scored on wild pitches.
The Cougars (7-12, 3-5) threatened to take the lead in the third inning, loading the bases on a hit, error and hit batsman. But, North first baseman Michael Henderson made a diving stop on a hard-hit grounder by Dibrell, scrambled to his feet to step on first and then threw behind the runner at second to end the inning with only one run scoring.
Chattahoochee tied the game in the fourth inning on a bizarre play. Jordan Einstein singled and stole second and third base. After Einstein stole third, North third baseman Harris Roberts tossed the ball back to Welch, who lost it in the sun, allowing Einstein to score the tying run.
Dibrell allowed two runs on three hits in five innings. He struck out three, walked two and hit three batters, before being relieved by Jeff Mullavey.
North coach Jim Cahill likes how his team has come together during their recent surge.
"We had a great practice yesterday [Thursday]," Cahill said. "The kids were upbeat after the win Wednesday and are starting to learn how to win."