The moment South Forsyth pitcher Landon Sims felt the direction of the wind Tuesday night, the sophomore knew what he was up against. A steady gust came in from left field. Sims expected it to temper the movement of his low-90s fastball but augment the bite of his slider. Temperatures in the mid-30s didn’t help, either.
But Sims adjusted accordingly, mixing dominance with persistence to lead the War Eagles to a 4-0 win at North Forsyth in both teams’ Region 5-7A opener. Sims scattered five hits and walked three, but he struck out 10 in seven complete innings to continue an impressive start to what is forming into a breakout season.
“I used the wind to my advantage instead of disadvantage,” Sims said. “Kept warm in the dugout. Cold’s a mindset.”
“He battled,” South head coach Russ Bayer said. “… He was an absolute warrior tonight.”
South (8-4, 1-0) needed him to be. North starter Brody Westbrooks was up to matching Sims for the most part. The War Eagles managed two runs off Westbrooks, with Grant Gerberding beating a two-out fielder’s choice from third base in the second and Max Schmal driving in Bradley Prince Jr. with a single in the third. But Westbrooks hardly buckled, striking out six in five innings.
South got the cushion it needed in the top of the sixth when Matty Bapst and Ben Ferrer scored on an infield error.
North (7-6, 0-1) had its chances too, thanks to left fielder Carter Mullikin, a good friend of Sims. The two played together when they were 14 years old. Their summer travel teams Team Elite (Sims) and Georgia Bombers (Mullikin) met last year, with Mullikin going 2-for-3, and he got the best of Sims again Tuesday, going 3-for-3 with a double.
“He’s a competitor,” Sims said. “He can swing the bat really good.”
But Mullikin never moved past second. No Raider did.
After Mullikin’s one-out double in the first, Sims got a fly out and strikeout to end the inning. After Mullikin’s two-out single in the third, he advanced to second on Collin Sanders’ walk, but Sims finished things with another strikeout. After his leadoff single in the sixth, Mullikin moved to second on a two-out single by Nicky DalMolin. No matter; Sims got back-to-back strikeouts to end another threat.
Expectations soared for Sims when he verbally committed to Mississippi State before the season.
So far, he’s living up to them.
“Tip your hat to Sims,” North head coach Jim Cahill said. “He did a great job. He kept us off-balance. We hit some balls hard right at guys, and first couple innings we had some guys on second base. … Sims just did a little better tonight.”