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West Forsyth can't hold lead in Game 3 loss to Parkview
Wolverines eliminated from playoffs in 5-3 loss
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Forsyth County News

LILBURN - After a double-header split in the first two games of their series on Friday, West Forsyth and Parkview locked horns for a final time on Saturday to decide who would move on to the second round of the playoffs. Despite an lead early, West was eventually bested by No. 1-seeded Parkview in a 5-3 loss at Hugh Buchanan Field. 

West showed bursts of offense early on in the contest but had problems manufacturing runs late as they were held scoreless after the second inning. Parkview matched West's fast offensive start and put enough insurance runs across the plate to hold on for the series win.

"I told my guys that I was extremely proud of them," West head coach Mike Pruitt said. "Nobody in the state gave this team a chance and I know that we scared the pants off of (Parkview). We're building something here and it's unfortunate that our seniors won't be around to experience it but they are definitely part of the groundwork that has gotten us to this point."

West starting pitcher Connor Milford showcased an effective breaking ball but had trouble keeping Parkview base-runners from rounding the bases. He only lasted 3 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on four hits and striking out three. Conversely, Parkview's Ryne Inman pitched through some early inning struggles and nearly went the distance, pitching six innings of three-run ball while racking up seven strikeouts.

The top of the first inning saw Parkview jump out to a quick 2-0 lead after a couple of consecutive singles were cashed in by a sacrifice groundout and a sacrifice fly. West quickly erased that deficit in the bottom of the inning when Mason McWhorter (1-4, HR, 2 RBI) took a 2-1 pitch and blasted it over the right field fence, tying the score at 2-2.

In the bottom of the second, West took sole possession of the lead after Inman put two men on-base and then threw a wild pitch past the catcher, allowing pinch runner Paxton Spessard to cross the plate, putting West up 3-2.

But the lead didn't last for long as Parkview scored a run in the next three consecutive innings, including a towering solo home-run by Isaiah Gilliam (2-4, HR, 3 RBI) in the top of the fifth inning against McWhorter, who had come in to relieve Milford. 

"I thought we fought hard and played really well, but we just couldn't get it done," West catcher Josh Tate said. "We left too many runners on base, but I'm still proud of my team. They did a heck of a job."

West had one last chance to get back in the game in the bottom of the seventh inning with men on second and third and two outs. However, Gilliam, who came in to close the game, overcame a throwing error by his third basemen and struck out West's Johnny Cassandra to end the season for the Wolverines.

After the game, the West players huddled around their coach and debriefed for the last time in 2014. Tate believes that the scope of the season is not forgotten in the wake of one disappointing loss.

"[Coach Pruitt] said that nobody expected us to come out here and put up as good of a fight as we did," Tate said. "He told us we have nothing to be ashamed of, to hold our heads high and that we'll get back to it next year for the kids who are coming back."