The No. 8-ranked Etowah Eagles swept the doubleheader against West Forsyth, 8-3 and 6-2, on Friday night to advance to the second round of the Class AAAAAA state tournament.
“Baseball is a funny game,” West head coach Mike Pruitt said. “When you get to this point of the season it’s a lot about who’s swinging the hotter bat or who’s just playing well at the right time. We finished the season playing really well, but when you have that week off you try to stay sharp and keep prepared but sometimes it works in your favor and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Etowah (12-9-2) started things off with a bang in Game 1 of the doubleheader when Tristan Mooney belted a two-run bomb off West’s Derrick Pickvet to put the Eagles up 2-0 in the first inning.
Tyler Adams extended the Eagles’ lead to three in the top of the fourth with a solo shot to the opposite field.
But the Wolverines (17-8) battled back and were able to string a few hits together to score two in the fourth. Then in the fifth, Hampton McConnell’s RBI single brought Alec Wilson home to tie the game at 3.
McConnell went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI in game one.
Etowah regained the lead in the sixth, and then busted the game wide open in the seventh. Adams’ bases-clearing double with two outs in the top of the seventh put the Eagles up 7-3, and they were able to tack on one more to win by a final of 8-3.
“The big homerun in the first inning on the road really set the tone, and we just made plays,” Etowah head coach Greg Robinson said. “We turned a key double play and got timely hitting. And hitting is contagious. Nobody was trying to do too much and just kept the line moving. We were disciplined at the plate and we got some pitches we could handle.”
The Wolverines couldn’t have picked a better way for Game 2 to start. Leadoff hitter Alec Wilson had a brilliant nine-pitch at-bat that ended with a home run to right-center.
Wilson went 2-for-2 with the home run, two RBI and a stolen base in the second game.
But Etowah quickly responded.
In the bottom of the first the Eagles batted around, bringing 10 batters to the plate in all. West’s Addison Albright gave up three singles and walked four in the first inning as Etowah built a 4-1 lead. And that was all they needed.
Etowah’s Robbie Knox was masterful in the second game, pitching a complete game, giving up four hits and two runs while striking out 10 batters.
The Eagles won 6-2 and punched their ticket to the second round of the state tournament to take on the winner of Harrison and Campbell.
“We haven’t won a playoff series in a couple years,” Robinson said. “We didn’t even get to the playoffs last year and the year before that we lost in three, so to win a playoff series is big. We know the kind of program we just defeated, so we’re gonna enjoy this for a while and try to keep the momentum going.
Pruitt reminded the Wolverines of what they accomplished this season and that they can hold their heads high after a 2015 campaign that saw them go 17-8 and win a share of the Region 6-AAAAAA championship.
“I’m proud of this baseball team,” Pruitt said. “Their goal was to win a region championship and they did that. We’ve got a lot of seniors that have contributed in a lot of different ways over the last four years and we’re gonna miss the heck out of them. They’ve definitely left this place a lot better than they started four years ago.”