ATHENS – A sold-out crowd roared at Foley Field on Tuesday night and University of Georgia pitcher Andrew Gist, a former Forsyth Central High School standout, faced toe-to-toe with the Clemson Tigers, a top 25 team in the country. This is the stage Gist has always wanted.
Gist entered the game in the fifth inning, his team trailing by one run, in relief for starting pitcher Kevin Smith. After a quick 1-2-3 inning, the Bulldogs regained the lead, making the score 4-3.
In the sixth inning, Gist faced off with fellow Forsyth native Seth Beer. Beer, a Lambert-graduate and nationally recognized for his elite hitting, reached base on all of his first three at-bats. The Tigers had two base runners on and their best hitter at the plate. This is the challenge Gist has always wanted.
Gist has been a dependable pitcher all season. Entering Tuesday’s game, he started three games, held a 3.12 ERA and struck out 21 batters. The opportunity to play SEC baseball was not always in the picture for Gist. Coming out of high school, he went to Walters State, a junior college, to continue his playing career. While there, he started 12 games and went 5-5.
“Going from playing there to here has been a huge jump,” said Gist, “but it’s been awesome.”
The challenge was ready. The stage was set. Gist stared down his catcher, nodded his head, and got ready to unload. A crack of the bat saw the ball pop over to the shortstop for an easy play, and Gist escaped the inning without any damage. A battle of two Forsyth County natives ended.
Gist and Beer were not the only players from Forsyth County to hold a spot on the Tuesday night rosters. Trey Logan (Lambert) and Addison Albright (West Forsyth) both make an impact on the Bulldogs. Logan is a middle infielder who awaits his turn for a starting role, while Albright works in the bullpen. Albright has appeared in four games this season, and he maintains the lowest ERA on the team.
The three Bulldog teammates are as close as you would expect. They are guys who grew up just minutes from each other, battling on the field, all to achieve a college scholarship. Now, they get to realize that dream on the same team as one another.
“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Gist and Addison here,” said Logan. “It’s been good to go from rivals to being teammates.”
Logan, Gist, and Albright aren’t superstars. They don’t hit home runs over scoreboards. They don’t see national recognition. They don’t hit walk-off singles. They aren’t concerned with that.
They just take the opportunities presented to them, and sometimes, they get the superstar to pop out.