It was a pitcher’s duel at Forsyth Central as West Forsyth’s Hank Flood and Central’s Ryan Cox each gave up just one earned run, but an error by the Bulldogs in the second inning proved to be the difference as the Wolverines held on for a 2-1 win to move one-step closer to securing the No. 2 seed in Region 5-7A and a first-round home playoff game.
“That’s everything we’re working for right now,” Flood said. “This win tonight was huge. We all really wanted it, and I know everyone else in our program wanted it.”
West got on the board early scoring one run in both the first and second innings, the latter coming off an RBI single by Bryar Hawkins to score Connor Weldy.
Weldy scored the eventual game-winning run after reaching base with two outs in the second inning due to an error by two Central outfielders who miscommunicated about who would field Weldy’s pop fly. Neither did, the ball hit to the ground and Hawkins drove Weldy home a few pitches later.
“When you can get to a guy early,” West coach Mike Pruitt said about Central’s pitcher. “We put up a couple runs early, and then (Cox) went into shut-down mode. He got his little breaking ball going and threw it well and got it for some strikeouts.”
After allowing two hits and his lone earned run in the first inning, Cox responded with six strikeouts and only one walk in route to a complete game performance.
“Ryan’s (Cox) done a good job all year throwing strikes,” Central coach Kevin McCollum said. “He did a good job tonight. Unfortunately, we didn’t score enough runs for him.”
Central’s only run came in the third inning. Flood started off the inning with another strikeout, one of his seven on the night, before allowing consecutive walks. A stolen base and a wild pitch in between the two walks led to runners on first and third for Central’s Luke Sutko, who connected on an RBI single.
But Flood regained his composure and shut the Bulldogs down not only for the rest of the inning, but for the rest of the game.
“I went back, tried to settle down, get back to the mechanics I started with,” Flood said. “Quit trying to do too much, and once I settled back in, I felt like I regained all of my control of all my pitches.
“That was obviously the key being able to throw all my pitches for strikes.”
With the win, West snaps Central’s 9-game win streak and moves into a three-way tie with Central and Milton for second place in the region.
West faces Milton at home on Friday at 5:55 p.m. Should the Wolverines win, they will clinch the No. 2 seed in the region. If Central defeats Lambert on Friday and West falls to Milton, then the Bulldogs will be the No. 2 seed. If both Central and West lose, Milton will be No. 2 with Lambert having already clinched the region title.