Zach McCrum was nearly unhittable.
The senior right-hander struck out 11 batters, including six in a row, and allowed only one hit to help guide South Forsyth to a 10-0 victory over Westlake in a six inning mercy-rule shortened game on Wednesday at War Eagle Field.
"I don’t really worry about strikeouts," McCrum said. "As long as I’m throwing ground balls, fly balls and we’re having quick innings, it doesn’t really matter to me.
"… I worked into the zone. I made adjustments to get myself in the zone. It wasn’t my mental state, just a couple of mechanical things, but we fixed it and it paid off in the end."
McCrum (6 IP, 1 H, 11 K, 2 HBP, 1 BB) had control issues in the second inning, issuing a walk and two hit batsmen to load the bases for Westlake, but worked his way out of the jam with a groundout to the second baseman to end the inning.
From then on, McCrum owned the plate. He sandwiched a strikeout between two groundouts in the third inning and struck out each batter in the fourth and fifth inning. The Lions’ (1-1) Montre Boyce broke up the no-hitter in the top of the sixth with a single to right field, but McCrum didn’t allow another baserunner.
The War Eagles (2-2) didn’t have to do much at the plate as Westlake’s pitchers combined for seven walks, three hit batsmen and five wild pitches. South finished the game with five hits.
"They made a lot of mistakes on the mound and handed us a lot of runs, made the game a little easier for us," South head coach Russ Bayer said. "We had pretty much one timely hit, but aside from that, we kind of allowed them to help us out."
South’s C.J. Kream was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the first inning, advanced to third on an infield error and scored after McCrum hit into a double play. Zack Baus tacked on another run after he scored from third following a wild pitch to take a 2-0 lead.
McCrum atoned for his double play in the first inning with a two-run home run that easily cleared the left field fence to score Baus in the third.
The War Eagles’ patience at the plate paid off in the fourth inning as they scored four runs without a hit. Nate Schmal, Chase Farley and Kream each walked before Baus picked up an easy RBI with a walk. Westlake tried to stop the bleeding with a pitching change, but it didn’t matter as Smith drew a walk to score another run. Farley scored after McCrum hit into a fielder’s choice and Smith crossed the plate on a wild pitch to give South an 8-0 lead.
South’s final two runs came in the sixth inning as Baus scored on a wild pitch, while teammate Michael Strait scored Smith with an RBI single to invoke the 10-run mercy rule and end the game.
"When you have a senior and a leader on the mound, you kind of expect an outing like that from him," Bayer said. "More importantly, even though we’ll take the win, I wasn’t overly content with the way we swung the bats today. Again, they helped us out a lot more than we helped ourselves."