The last time Cass pitcher Tyler Gates faced South Forsyth, he was hammered to the tune of a 7-1 loss.
Wednesday night at War Eagle Field, Gates returned the favor. The senior right hander was more efficient than dominant, but kept South’s bats in check while helping himself at the plate en route to a 6-2 win.
“Tyler’s been our ace,” said Cass head coach Todd Eubanks. “The last time we played them [March 8] these guys roughed him up pretty good. After that game, he said he wanted the ball against them again. We gave it to him and he did a great job for us.”
Gates went five and one third innings against South (11-6, 7-4 Region 7-AAAA), allowing just two runs on three hits while striking out two. Though he hit two batters and walked five, South’s hitters couldn’t make him pay for the free passes.
The War Eagles left runners on base in every inning except the seventh, stranding a total of nine for the game.
Gates kept his team close enough until the Colonels (10-7, 5-6) finally broke through against South starter Daniel Ross in the fifth. With one out, three consecutive hits — a single by first baseman Chaz Wilson, a bunt single by freshman outfielder Chris Morton and a double to left field by shortstop Sam Ayers (2-for-2, RBI, R) — produced a run to tie the score 1-1.
A sacrifice fly by second baseman Connor Law scored Morton, and Gates (2-for-3, RBI) delivered a two-out single to center field to chase Ayers home and give Cass a 3-1 lead.
Though the Colonels banged out nine hits, South Forsyth head coach Russ Bayer thought his club made things too easy for Cass.
“Not to take anything away from Cass, but we couldn’t make quality pitches like we needed to at key points in the game,” Bayer said. “We left the ball up too often. But kudos to them for taking advantage of the opportunities that we gave them.”
Gates pitched around a two-out walk in the bottom of the inning and, in the top of the sixth, his team’s offense struck again. Third baseman Dalton Parham doubled to lead off the inning and junior Dylan Williams (2-for-4, three RBI) hammered a two-run homer over the left field wall. Sophomore Brandon Etheridge followed with a single to centerfield, but was left on base after Ross induced three straight groundouts.
South appeared ready to respond in the home half of the sixth when Gates walked senior first baseman Micah Dunn and — after Jesse Gonzalez grounded into a fielder’s choice — issued another walk to Sam Walker.
Parham relieved gates and struck out junior centerfielder C.J. Kream, then surrendered a double to infielder Zach Baus that scored Gonzalez and narrowed the gap to 5-2.
Parham walked senior Andrew Cooley to load the bases but struck out Zach Sforzo to end the threat and the inning.
The Colonels picked up their final run in the seventh when they loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batsman. Williams delivered his third RBI of the game when he grounded into a force out, and Parham put the game in the win column when he set the War Eagles down in order in the home half of the inning.
South will travel to Lambert on Monday.
Bayer said his team will work out during its four-day break from competition.
“You’d like to play right away after a game like this to get the sour taste out of your mouth,” Bayer said.
“So we will be playing baseball.”