The two games that the South Forsyth baseball team played on Thursday against Brookwood in the second round of the state playoffs gave the War Eagles two options: Encouragement from the first one, a 3-2 win on a walk-off single in the seventh inning; or discouragement from the second, a 10-7 loss marked by an eight-run frame by the Broncos.
South is taking a third choice.
"I'm encouraged by both," War Eagles head coach Russ Bayer said. "We didn't get the dub in game two, (and) one inning got us: so what? We came out, and we outhit that team, and we outplayed that team for basically 13 of the 14 innings."
Thursday's doubleheader was heavy on talent on both sides. South's Landon Sims, a Mississippi State commit, and Brookwood's Alex Flood, a lanky righty who no-hit North Forsyth earlier in the year, dueled through the first game, with Sims allowing three hits in his outing and Flood holding the War Eagles scoreless through six.
South entered the bottom of the seventh trailing 2-0 but immediately dinged Flood for two runs, with Sims doubling off the wall in left and Matty Bapst whacking a two-run home run to the same part of the park. Flood exited after that, and South proceeded to load the bases with one out. Ryan Finegan singled to deep left to drive home the winning run.
The pitching-first theme continued through the first two-and-a-half innings of the second game. Brookwood stroked seven hits and scored eight runs in the bottom of the third inning, though, and South couldn't climb back from that deficit.
The War Eagles came close, though. Sims homered after Cooper Davidson walked to start the next inning, and Bapst followed that with a solo shot. Prince Jr. homered in the top of the fifth to give South three in the game, and the War Eagles wound with 12 hits in the contest, equal to Brookwood's total.
"We just never give up," Bapst said. "We always know that everyone in our lineup can do something big at any time."
South feels that it has the momentum heading into Friday's decisive game, which Cooper Davidson -- another Division I arm in the War Eagles' rotation -- is set to start. South (26-7) used only three pitchers in Thursday, and closer Peyton Presley is one of the remaining fresh arms.
A sweep like the one South had in the first round against Peachtree Ridge would have been nice, but it wasn't the expectation.
"We knew that we weren't going to make a run through all of this and always be just (in) a two-game scenario," Bayer said. "So we've talked about it (and) we've preached about it all year, about the depth of the arms that we have."
"One inning: so what? It's baseball."
The third game of the series is set for 5:55 p.m. on Friday.