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Baseball: West clinches first playoff berth since 2009
Wolverines set to make second postseason appearance in program history
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West Forsyth catcher Chris Cullen tags out North Forsyths Harris Roberts at home plate on Thursday at Raider Field. West won 12-10 in eight innings and clinched its first state playoff berth since 2009. - photo by Jared Putnam

West Forsyth finally has a chance to find out if things really are better the second time around.

The Wolverines clinched their second playoff berth in program history — their first since 2009 — with a 12-10 victory over North Forsyth in eight innings on Thursday at Raider Field. The loss eliminated the Raiders from postseason contention.

West suffered an 8-1 loss to Alpharetta on Friday at Wolverine Field and finished the regular season as the No. 3 seed from Region 6-AAAAAA. The Wolverines (15-10, 9-5 Region 6-AAAAAA) will open the Class 6A state playoffs on the road against Peachtree Ridge.

"I’m proud of them for getting here," Wolverines second-year head coach Mike Pruitt said.

"The first half of the season, it didn’t seem like we had a lot going for us. The second half, we’ve really played well."

West Forsyth 12, North Forsyth 10

West rallied from a five-run deficit against the Raiders (14-12, 5-9) behind senior right fielder Jacob Hill.

Hill (4-for-4) launched two solo home runs in the game, including a shot that broke a 10-10 tie in the eighth inning, and finished with five runs scored. He also made two key defensive plays in the late innings.

"I was feeling it tonight, I was," Hill said.

"We always fight; we never quit. Good things are happening at the right time, people are coming through when they need to, and we’re just putting together good performances."

West jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning with the help of a two-run homer by Chris Cullen (3-for-4, 3 RBI) off Tyler Welch, but North pulled ahead 9-4 behind senior first baseman Michael Henderson (2-for-5, 5 RBI), who launched his second home run of the game during a six-run third inning.

The Raiders out-hit the Wolverines 20-16.

"I’m proud of the way we slugged it out with them," North head coach Jim Cahill said.

"Obviously when you get 20 hits you kind of expect to win. I’m just proud of our seniors. They’re great kids and it’s just a pleasure to coach them."

North tied the game 9-9 with a five-run fifth inning that included run-scoring singles by Brett Anderson (4-for-5), Hunter Belue and Sam Sutko.

Nick Aiken gave the Raiders a brief 10-9 lead with a two-out RBI double in the bottom of the fifth.

Hill led off the top of the sixth and launched his first home run over the left field wall off reliever Dylan Powers. Hill then saved a run in the bottom of the inning when he threw out Harris Roberts at home plate, after the runner tried to score from second on a two-out single by Griffin Caracciolo.

Hill blasted a two-out homer over the center field fence to put West on top 11-10 in the eighth, and Alex DeCubellis followed with a double and scored on an error to give the Wolverines an insurance run.

Wolverines freshman right-hander Derrick Pickvett (1 IP, 1 K, 0 R, 1 H, 1 BB) made his first varsity appearance in the bottom of the inning and struck out Mason Quarles with runners on first and second to end the game and earn the save. Pickvett got a key assist from Hill, who made a running grab on a foul ball near the right field fence for the second out.

Austin Shea (4 IP, 2 K, 1 ER, 8 H, 1 BB) picked up the win on the mound.

Alpharetta 8, West Forsyth 1

West never found a way to capitalize off Alpharetta senior right-hander Josh Dobbs (5 IP, 4 K, 0 R, 3 H, 4 BB).

The Raiders (14-12, 8-6) supported him with eight runs and defeated the Wolverines to clinch the No. 4 seed in Region 6-AAAAAA — and drop West to the region’s No. 3 slot.

"We’ve got a little bit of time to spit this [loss] out," Pruitt said.

"We’ll go back to work on a lot of basic stuff that we didn’t get take care of tonight ... and we’ll make a run at it."

Alpharetta jumped on top 2-0 in the third inning, after loading the bases off West starter Johnny Cassandra with the help of a pair of errors by Belue.

Evan Trout hit a sac fly to center to score one run, and another cross the plate when Wilson’s throw sailed too far to the left of Cullen at home plate.

Alpharetta tacked on four more in the fifth — Dobbs helped himself with an RBI triple — and two in the sixth.

West scored its only run on an single by Mason McWhorter in the sixth.