Maybe West Forsyth's performance Wednesday night was just what it needed to get over the hump.
West trailed South Forsyth as much as 4-0 after three innings, but rallied in the bottom of the fifth for a 7-5 victory that felt like a momentum-swinging game for the Wolverines. West's dugout was arguably as animated as it had been this season.
“We talked about that,” West coach Mike Pruitt said of the energy in the second half of the game. “We went on a senior retreat before the season, and I reminded my kids that seemed to have been the last time they were really having fun. Of course, when you play bad baseball like we had been playing, it's not fun.”
West (4-5, 3-2) had been playing tight; they were over-thinking things. That all seemed to change in the bottom frame of the fifth inning, trailing 5-2, when it rattled off four runs to take a 6-5 lead.
After Bryar Hawkins and Chris Cullen reached on walks, Hampton McConnell hit a ball just sharply enough to force an error, bringing Hawkins home. Mason McWhorter doubled in the next plate appearance to earn two RBIs and tie the game.
Next, West took its first lead of the contest when Hank Flood singled to score McWhorter and end the night for South pitcher Will Foy. Foy finished with six allowed hits, three walks and a strikeout before receiving relief.
In the bottom of the following frame, consecutive doubles from Alec Wilson and Hawkins padded the lead at 7-5, taking pressure off West pitcher Derrick Pickvett.
Wilson's double was a pivotal play in the game according to Pruitt, who hoped the hustle of his Stanford commit was a showcase of necessary effort that his younger players could learn from.
“Wilson had been struggling (at the plate) to no end, but instead of stopping at first to celebrate a hit, he kept his head down and went to second,” Pruitt said. “Things like that are encouraging and we have to build on that.”
Pickvett finished with a complete game despite allowing eight hits, but he neutralized the offense's contact with seven strikeouts and just one walk to his name. Pickvett made quick work of South's lineup in the second, fourth and sixth frames, but struggled in the third inning where West fell behind 4-0.
South (6-6, 3-2) had singles in the top of the third frame from Alec Andronica, Brock Graczyk, Alec Kliphouse and Justin Graczyk that engineered the high-scoring inning.
South coach Russ Bayer felt like the War Eagles had West right where they wanted them in the early going.
“We put pressure on them early, but they came back and put it right back on us,” Bayer said. “We threw well enough to win, but we gave them a lot of runs on routine plays, and you can't get away with stuff like that in this region.”