North Forsyth almost stole the game Friday night, but ultimately costly errors, errant pitching and a trio of balks helped West Forsyth cruise around the bags, often unconventionally, for a close 8-7 victory in a big Region 6-AAAAAA matchup.
North trailed 8-3 after five innings, but scored one run in the sixth and four in the seventh before finally committing its last out with a man in scoring position. West (10-6, 9-2) now owns second place in the region standings behind Lambert, while North, who had a chance to take first place against the Longhorns earlier in the week, falls to third with an 8-4 region mark (10-7-1 overall).
“We did a heads up job of taking advantage of their mistakes,” West coach Mike Pruitt said.
The early mistakes belonged to North's starting pitcher, Dakota Chalmers. The Georgia commit struggled from the mound, lasting just 2 1/3 innings, allowing two hits and five walks against five strikeouts.
West's first six baserunners all reached on walks or fielding errors, and the Wolverines led 2-1 after two frames without having a single hit. Chalmers, pitching in front of over a dozen scouts, never found his control, but coach Jim Cahill wasn't concerned.
“Everybody's entitled to a bad day,” Cahill said. “He hadn't had one all year.”
West took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the third before three RBI singles by Hank Flood, Connor Weldy and Nate Schmitz made the score 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth. Weldy and Tanner Chafin scored off a wild pitch and fielder's choice, respectively, to pad the lead at 8-2.
Addison Albright took to the mound in the top of the seventh to close the game for the Wolverines, but a walk, single from Brant Stark, and another walk loaded the bases. Chalmers, who reentered the game in right field, walked right after to bring a runner home. Max Bening then hit a bases-clearing triple off Connor Hawkins to bring the Raiders within a run. Hawkins retired the next batter in Matthew Heard to end the nail-biting contest.
“I told coach Cahill, when we do win games against them it never is easy,” Pruitt said. “We've had leads like this tonight and they just don't quit. Compliments to them, and you know people in region think North doesn't hit very well, but I don't believe that. They swing the bats really well and they did tonight. I'm glad we don't have to play them again.”
West's starting pitcher, Derrick Pickvet, mostly scattered nine hits, struck out three and walked two in six innings of work. Heard scored off an error to give North the first run of the game in the bottom of the second, while Chalmers tied the game at 2-2 in the third when his double off the right-center wall brought home Stark, but outs two and three of that frame were scored on that same play when Cory Campbell was thrown out at home and Chalmers, consequently, was thrown out trying to round to third.
Heard let all batters in the game, going 3-for-4 at the plate, while not a single batter for West had multiple hits.