Will Skidmore leads West Forsyth in hits this season, but the one hit he rarely gets has led to some good-natured ribbing by his teammates.
After Thursday’s win against Centennial, the senior second baseman may not have to hear any jokes about his bat for a while.
Skidmore started an offensive barrage with a leadoff home run to right center, as West Forsyth churned out 15 hits in a 12-2 victory against the Knights in five innings at Wolverine Field.
Skidmore (1-for-3, HR, RBI, 2 R) said it was his first home run since his sophomore year.
“It doesn’t happen very often,” the senior second baseman said, laughing. “It’s kind of a relief so that people don’t tease me anymore. I can actually get it past the outfielders out there.”
Skidmore’s home run gave West (9-7, 2-2 Region 6-AAAAA) a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first after senior right-hander Trevor Guthrie (5 IP, 3 K, 2 ER, 5 H, 2 BB) struck out Andrew Short to end the top half of the inning, leaving runners stranded on the corners. West coach Mike Pruitt said the sequence was an important tone-setter for his squad.
“When you don’t give up any [runs] in the first, which we’ve been doing a lot of lately, then we come in with a leadoff home run, it kind of changes the whole tone for every hitter that follows,” Pruitt said.
“If our leadoff guy can get a swing that good, every hitter just kind of goes to the plate with a little more confidence.
“Will has done a tremendous job in the leadoff spot. When he gets on base, we tend to go.”
Graham Bunting (3-for-3, 2B, RBI, 2 R) kept West going in the first inning with a one-out double down the left field line and scored on a two out single by Reed Johnson (2-for-4, 2 RBI).
Bunting delivered again in the second, lacing a bases-loaded, run-scoring single to left to give West a 3-0 lead.
“We all came ready to play,” Bunting said. “We haven’t played in almost a week now and we were just fired up, ready to go.”
West’s fourth run crossed the plate later in the inning when Jacob Hill grounded into a fielder’s choice at third.
Centennial (4-11, 1-3) cut into the lead in the top of the third. The Knights came up with three consecutive one-out singles off Guthrie, with Dustin Beggs driving in a run on the third to get Centennial on the scoreboard.
But a pair of baserunning mistakes allowed the Wolverines to avoid any further damage.
With Sean Muller standing on third base, Beggs took off to steal second.
Wolverines catcher Jordan Cain faked a throw to second, prompting Muller to break for home, and Guthrie tagged him out after a brief rundown. Guthrie then fired the ball to Skidmore, who caught Beggs too far off second base for the third out.
It was the second of three double plays turned by the Wolverines in the game.
“I’m not real sure we got the guy at second, but we did a good job making it look so,” Pruitt said. “I thought, defensively, other than laying back on a ball or two, we played well.”
Centennial further cut the lead to 4-2 on a towering home run to left by Short in the top of the fourth, but it was all West the remainder of the game.
Lance Belue (2-for-2, 2B, 2 R) led off the bottom of the inning with a double to deep right center and scored on a one-out double by Brent Odom (2-for-3, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R), who advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on another.
Bunting followed with his third hit of the night and scored on a double by Jacob Hill to increase the Wolverines’ lead to 7-2.
West then finished off the rout in the fifth.
Cain and Brett Anderson (2-for-3, 2 R) led off with consecutive singles, and Lance Belue was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Skidmore battled back from an 0-2 count to draw a bases-loaded walk and force in a run.
Odom followed with a two-run double and advanced to third on a wild pitch that scored Skidmore.
With Odom representing the run that would trigger the mercy rule, Centennial elected to intentionally walk Bunting and Hill to load the bases and create the opportunity for a force out at home. Instead, Johnson drove a hit into the gap to bring Odom home and end the game.
“We played well tonight,” Bunting said. “I don’t think we’ve had 15 hits in a while at this field. We had every single person in the lineup get a hit. That’s outstanding.”
Skidmore praised Guthrie’s outing on the mound — and showed he can dish out the playful jabs as well as he can take them.
“Trevor pitched really good ... except for that 500-foot-long home run three-quarters [of the way] up the [foul] pole,” Skidmore said with a laugh.