After three innings without a hit, West Forsyth’s bats came alive.
Sophomore catcher Chris Cullen ignited a five-run fourth inning with a one-out triple to right field to score Alex DeCubellis, as West Forsyth trounced Centennial 10-1 in the Region 6-AAAAAA opener on Wednesday at Wolverine Field.
"I went up to the plate with confidence," Cullen said. "I was looking fastball and when I got my pitch I didn’t miss it. I was in the zone. I had confidence going into this game. I just knew no one was going to get me out and that’s just the attitude that led me to the good day I had today."
Centennial pitcher Jake Young (4 IP, 5 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 1 HBP) lost control after Cullen’s (2-for-2, 3B, 2B, 2BB) triple and hit Brett Anderson with a pitch before allowing Reed Johnson to smash a two-run double to left-center field, scoring courtesy runners Tanner Bridges and Jake Wieczorek. Hunter Belue hit a grounder to third to score Johnson, while Hampton McConnell reached home on a fielder’s choice to make the score 6-1.
Alec Wilson led off the fifth inning with a double to right field and then stole third before Jacob Hill recorded an RBI single, but West (6-4, 1-0 Region 6-AAAAAA) couldn’t add another run as the Knights’ (0-9, 0-1) reliever Nate Bramel forced two groundouts and a strikeout.
The Wolverines tacked on three more insurance runs in the sixth inning. McConnell walked, stole second and scored on a single to right field from Johnny Cassandra. Wilson was hit by a pitch and Hill singled to load the bases for DeCubellis, who hit into a fielder’s choice, but still scored Cassandra and moved Wilson to third. Wilson then scored on a wild pitch to cushion the lead at 10-1.
Even with the win, West head coach Mike Pruitt saw room for improvement.
"Score-wise [we had a good game], but we played sloppy," Pruitt said.
"It was just bad. Running with a fly ball when there’s only one out thinking there’s two outs; we don’t put down a sacrifice bunt; we try to take third base and get thrown out by six miles because we don’t get a good read. We have a hit-and-run and we take it and get thrown out at second, just a lot of mental [mistakes]. It’d be different if this was the first or second game or we hadn’t practiced or played much, but we’re making some mistakes that are just unacceptable."
Centennial struck first in the game as Marcus Fitzhugh singled to left field with one out to score Garrett Ely from second in the second inning, but West pitcher Addison Albright (5 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 6 K, 1 BB) didn’t allow another run by forcing a groundout and strikeout to end the inning.
West tied the game at 1-1 in the third inning without a hit. McConnell reached third after an error by the right fielder allowed the ball to roll to the fence and scored after the shortstop couldn’t field a grounder from Belue.