North Forsyth used a big first inning and a complete game from starting pitcher Andrew Grogan to earn an 8-3 victory at South Forsyth in the first game of the teams’ Region 6-AAAAAA series Friday.
North (11-4, 7-2) knew the importance of the game. The Raiders sat in a three-way tie with Northview and West Forsyth just a game behind region leaders Johns Creek and Lambert, and they have a big series next week against the Longhorns. South (9-6, 4-5) sits alone in sixth place, knowing it needs to win any and every game it can to try and earn a playoff spot.
From the first batter, North was clicking. The Raiders bolted out to a quick start in the first inning, taking advantage of South freshman starting pitcher Landon Sims’ struggles to find the strike zone. Sims walked four batters and hit another in the first inning, and a single by Tyler Sheley knocked in the second run of the game.
The ninth batter in North’s lineup, Kyle Martin, cleared the bases with a grand slam, giving North a 7-0 lead.
“We came out of the gates and took advantage of some of the mistakes they made,” North head coach Jim Cahill said. “The big blow was when Kyle Martin hit that home run.”
Grogan had his share of struggles in the first inning, allowing three base runners and two runs to cross the plate. He was dominant from then on, allowing just two hits and striking out five the rest of the way.
“He did a great job,” said Cahill. “He was throwing three pitches for strikes, and when he does that he is very tough to beat.”
South’s pitching bounced back after the first inning. Sims, Brennan Vincent, and PJ Szczesny combined to allow just one more run and strike out seven batters.
“You take away the top of the first [inning], we win that ball game 3-1,” South head coach Russ Bayer said. “We have a lot of faith in our arms, but we just have to challenge hitters and be aggressive in the strike zone.”
Alec Kliphouse hit a solo home run in the third inning to shrink North’s lead to 7-3. Tyler Koch extended the lead back to five runs with a solo home run to start the fifth inning.
North and South will finish their two-game series Monday at 5:55 p.m. at Coal Mountain.