North Forsyth needed a win Wednesday to keep on safe ground in the Region 6-AAAAAA playoff race. Starting pitcher J.B. Finnemore made sure to keep his team's anxiety low.
Finnemore finished with a complete game performance, allowing just three scattered hits as North shutout West Forsyth 6-0 in Coal Mountain. The win clinched one of the four playoff spots for the Raiders, but another victory on Thursday could give North the No. 2 or No. 3 seed, depending on the final score of the Lambert-Northview game.
The disparity in urgency was clear from the start to West head coach Mike Pruitt.
“The bottom line is they wanted it today more than we wanted it today, end of story,” Pruitt said. “I told them coming into the game that the pressure was not on us, but we played today like we had nothing to play for. Maybe tomorrow, since they'll have something to play for, they'll play.”
North head coach Jim Cahill wasn't interested in playoff scenarios after the game. Those in attendance and on the field were waiting to see if Johns Creek had lost to Alpharetta. The Gladiators eventually fell, 5-3, clinching North's playoff position.
“We're just worried about Raider baseball,” Cahill said. “We got the first one and we'll try to get one tomorrow.”
Finnemore allowed just one hit through the first five frames as the Raiders built a 5-0 lead. He walked two and recorded five strikeouts.
“He was phenomenal,” Cahill said of his starter. “Every outing he's gotten better and better.”
“Finnemore kind of pitched backwards on us,” Pruitt said. “We took fastballs and swung at curveballs. Any time you let a high school pitcher do that to you he's going to have success.”
If West (15-10, 13-4) wants to keep position in the standings it will need to get past another pitcher who has given the Wolverines trouble in the past in Andrew Grogan.
“Grogan is going to be tough. We've not had much success against him before, but we'll see,” Pruitt said.
Bailey Gerstner brought home the game's first run in the first with an RBI single, reaching second on an error, that scored Zac Slaton, who reached on a single. Cory Campbell traded places with Gerstner with an RBI double of his own, making the score 2-0.
North did some of the same to West's starting pitcher Hank Flood in the following inning, as Trevor Rhys scored on a groundout from Slaton, followed by an RBI double from Gerstner.
Rhys helped out in the third, knocking a triple to score Tyler Koch. Gerstner scored the game's final run when he came home on a bases-loaded walk in the sixth inning.