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Baseball: Ten-run rally lifts North to comeback win over West
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North Forsyth's Carter Mullikin rounds third base during the Raiders' 10-run fourth inning in their game against West Forsyth on March 29, 2019 at North Forsyth High School. - photo by Ian Frazer

In the top of the fourth inning on Friday night, there wasn’t a lot of commotion in North Forsyth’s dugout, and for good reason.

West Forsyth had opened the game with a 7-0 lead, and the Raiders were struggling mightily at the plate, with Wolverine starter Marc Ellenburg opening his night with three hitless frames.

The hole was almost deeper than that: With one out in the top of the fourth, West had the potential to add another run with Wyatt Crowell at third. But during the next at-bat, Miles Hartsfield threw a Luke Cartenuto ground ball to first baseman Sammy Gore for an out, and when Gore saw Crowell breaking for home, he fired to the plate for a close double play that made the Raiders erupt out of the dugout in celebration.

It was the only positive play North had to that point, and it had the potential to be a huge momentum shifter. The Raiders knew it, and if they had learned anything after their comeback win over South Forsyth on Monday, it was to never count themselves out. 

“Right after that play, we kind of had a meeting in the dugout and we were like, ‘Look, this game is super early. We've done this plenty of times before,’” Carter Mullikin said. “We just kind of rallied everybody before that inning.”

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West Forsyth's Marc Ellenburg delivers a pitch during the Wolverines' game against North Forsyth on March 29, 2019 at North Forsyth High School. - photo by Ian Frazer
Sure enough, in the bottom of the fourth, the mood in North’s dugout had completely shifted. The Raiders tagged the Wolverines for nine hits, two walks and 10 runs in that inning alone, and it was the difference in a 13-7 victory. The Raiders improved to 7-3 in Region 5-A with the win, while the Wolverines fell to 2-8.

“Our kids were patient and just had a good approach the second time,” North coach Jim Cahill said. “It's easier when you get down by six or seven. You want to hit home runs and stuff, but they stayed true to who they are and just got some base hits.”

Indeed, seven of those nine fourth-inning knocks were singles, but Mullikin’s second at-bat of the inning did clear the fence. His two-run shot to center capped North’s rally, giving the Raiders their first lead of the game at 9-7 before Justice Bailey added an RBI single to extend the edge to three.

“I was just trying to put it in play and do a job,” Mullikin said. “I just caught a hold of it and got it in the wind. I was pretty pumped.”

West began the game about as well as they’d hoped to. Matthew Strzelecki hit an RBI double to begin scoring in the first, and after a Brock Imbornone sacrifice fly, Barrett Roland singled in two more to make it 4-0 in the middle of the first. After a two-RBI double for Crowell in the fourth, the Wolverines were in a seemingly comfortable situation, but after the Raiders’ rally, the bats began to quiet down.

“Once they got all that momentum back, our approach changed at the plate and we started taking long, hard swings that we weren't doing early on,” West coach Mike Pruitt said. “I think everybody thought we could hit a three-run home run with nobody on base.”

North is now tied with Forsyth Central for second place in the region. A comeback win is a nice way to enter spring break, but they know they’ll have to be ready when they return to Georgia after a short jaunt to Florida.

“When we come back, it’s going to be a dogfight,” Cahill said. “We've got to play everybody one time. I don't think anybody's out of it.”

Mullikin went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored, while Gore, Garrett Staton and Charlie Aiken each added two RBIs apiece. Roland led West, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs.