By Steven Watkins
For the Forsyth County News
For the eighth time of Friday’s playoff doubleheader with Peachtree Ridge, South Forsyth’s Landon Sims stepped into the batter’s box and waited for his first pitch.
Sims himself had already pitched a full seven in the previous game, an 8-2 win for the War Eagles in which he batted in a pair of runs while striking out seven batters. Now the Mississippi State commit looked to take back a lead the War Eagles had surrendered the previous frame thanks to a bizarre two-out rally by the Lions in the bottom of the sixth.
Sitting on a fastball with a 1-1 count, Sims saw precisely the pitch he was waiting for: a fastball over the plate that he sent high, deep and over the left-field fence, knocking in his third run of the evening and giving his team a 5-4 lead that would send them to the next round of the postseason tournament.
“I went up there swinging pretty aggressive,” Sims said. “I knew he hadn’t thrown very many off-speed pitches so I was sitting fastball, and I saw one that looked good to hit.”
The junior’s second home run of the doubleheader capped off an evening in which it almost seemed like he couldn’t do wrong, going two-for-four in both games with a run and two RBIs in the first, and three runs and one RBI in the second. He scored South’s first run of the evening with a solo, opposite-field homer in the bottom of first game’s second inning, and he protected his lead by repeatedly pitching out of jams, ending five different innings with timely strikeouts.
“I think we both live for those moments, where we’ve got to man up and get the outs that we need to get,” Sims said referring to teammate Ben Ferrer, who started the second game.
Ferrer’s start was no less impressive, although for entirely different reasons.
After a solid first inning, the bottom of the second was interrupted when Ferrer’s leg abruptly cramped up, putting the South Senior grimacing on his back for a full 15 minutes.
“I think it probably had something to do with dehydration and the two games today,” Ferrer said. “It kind of lingered the rest of the game.”
Ferrer would remain in the game through a gritty five and two-thirds innings, giving up only three hits while striking out six.
“He really battled, taking us close to the seventh,” South Head Coach Russ Bayer said on Ferrer’s outing. “That was a fierce cramp, he was getting rubbed out every inning. Just the competitive nature of (Sims and Ferrer) is unbelievable.”
While the second game remained close on the scoreboard, the War Eagles ultimately outperformed their opponents throughout the duration of the evening, notching 11 hits to Peachtree Ridge’s eight in the first game and nine to the Lions’ four in the second. All eight runs in the first game were scored by different South players.
The War Eagles will continue their first postseason since 2015 with a date with Brookwood team fresh off of a 25-win season and a first-round sweep of Archer, one in which they averaged ten runs a game.
“That’s why it’s playoff baseball,” Bayer said. “Whether we saw Brookwood or Archer, we knew we were facing a team that’s ultra competitive, and Brookwood obviously is that.”