SUWANEE — Mike Pruitt knew for his team to stay alive, it would have to limit the big inning in Game 2.
No. 2-seed Peachtree Ridge used a six-run second inning to take the first game 7-2, but No. 3-seed West Forsyth bounced back to win the second game of the double-header 3-1 behind a strong pitching performance from lefty Addison Albright. The sophomore allowed just four hits and struck out eight on Friday at Peachtree Ridge High School in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs.
"When you pitch like that, you can limit the big inning," Pruitt said. "But even with that being said, they got baserunners in a few places [but] Addison made some great pitches and we made some good plays behind him and squelched the big inning. You take the wind out of their sails."
The Wolverines (16-11) held Peachtree Ridge (18-10) to just one run in the second game, but they couldn’t manage any offensive production of their own for much of the night.
That all changed in the sixth inning.
Chris Cullen doubled to left-center field to score Alex DeCubellis from first and tied the game at 1-1. Hunter Belue then smashed the ball into the right field corner on an 0-2 count to earn an RBI triple and brought home courtesy runner Jake Wieczorek. Belue crossed the plate on a single by Sam Sutko (3-for-3) to cap the scoring and marked the end for Lions’ pitcher Ryne Inman (5 2/3 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 8 K, 4 BB).
"I got behind in the count early and then he just left the fastball over the zone and I just did whatever I could with it. Just put the bat on the ball was what I was thinking, so I’m just thankful it dropped.
" … If we come out and play our game, we can play with anybody."
Peachtree Ridge’s only run came in the fourth inning, as Drew Wharton doubled down the left field line to score Anthony Perez from second. Albright (7 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 8 K, 3 BB) allowed just two more baserunners in the final three innings to earn the win.
"I just tried to locate my fastball and get ahead of [the batters]," Albright said. "It’s tough to come back in the count. These guys are definitely a fastball hitting team. I had a great defense behind me today and glad we had some late run production."
Game 1 was almost the exact opposite for West.
Wolverines’ starting pitcher Johnny Cassandra (2 IP, 4 ER, 4 H, 2 K, 1 BB, 3 HBP) escaped the first inning without any harm, but couldn’t find his groove in the second as six players reached home before giving way to relief pitcher Zack Bitzer (4 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 4 K).
Perez was hit by a pitch and Wharton walked before both advanced a base on a wild pitch. Blake Best hit a grounder to the shortstop, but the throw was wide of the first baseman and allowed two runs to score. Cooper Burdick singled in Best, while Tyler Haswell knocked in a run on a sacrifice fly. Jonathan Hudson finished the scoring with a two-run RBI double to the left field corner to make the score 6-0.
West chipped away at the lead with two runs in the fourth inning, as Cullen and Brett Anderson both recorded RBI groundouts, but Haswell (7 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 9 K, 1 BB) allowed only one runner in scoring position for the rest of the game.
Chad Pollitt reached home on a fielding error for the Lions in the sixth inning to cushion the lead at 7-2.
"Baseball is a funny game," Pruitt said. "It can go this way or that way… but the way we were swinging the bat eventually they had to start falling, and they did."