The Buzz: Week 13
Derrick Pickvet leapt up to snatch the scorching ground ball hit back in his direction just an hour and a half and 80 pitches after he first took the mound. With the ball in his glove, the West Forsyth senior sprinted toward first base and tossed it to bag for the last out, one final play so emblematic of the entire game and Pickvet’s performance: swift and sure.
The Wolverines’ starter confounded South Forsyth in a 2-0 victory Wednesday in a critical Region 6-AAAAAA game that extended West’s winning streak to six and kept it one game behind first-place Lambert in the region standings with two games remaining against the Longhorns.
“Once I got on the mound, I felt good. Throwing strikes always does well for me,” Pickvet said, and he threw plenty of them in seven complete innings.
The North Georgia signee struck out eight with a lethal fastball-slider combination. He pounded the strike zone and gave up just two walks. He kept the ball down and allowed just a one hit – a one-out bloop single by South’s Brett Graczyk in the bottom of the fourth inning. Pickvet promptly erased the blemish by inducing an inning-ending double play.
South (11-11, 7-7) didn’t have a base-runner in scoring position until the seventh when Pickvet issued his final walk of the game to lead-off batter Alex Andronica. Andronica moved to second on a ground out and to third on Pickvet’s lone wild pitch, but Pickvet didn’t crumble. He struck out South’s Michael Strait, then snagged Justin Graczyk’s laser back up the middle to end the game.
“He spotted well, his fastball inside, his fastball away,” West head coach Mike Pruitt said. “He threw a lot of good changeups, and that slider, when it’s on, it’s pretty dang good. … When he’s right, he’s tough to hit.”
West (13-6, 11-2) gave Pickvet runs to work with in the fourth and sixth innings. In the fourth, Chris Cullen drew a walk and was replaced by Grant Torgerson as a pinch-runner. Torgerson moved to second on a wild pitch, to third on a fly-ball single from McWhorter and scored on another wild pitch. In the sixth, Hampton McConnell tripled and came home on a ground out by McWhorter.
That was enough for Pickvet, who improved to 4-0 and lowered his ERA to 1.42 in 39 1/3 innings.
A year ago, Pickvet’s role was as a mere piece out of the bullpen for a West team that stumbled into a state playoff appearance. Now, with West senior pitcher and Georgia signee Addison Albright still coming back from injury, he’s the ace for a Wolverines’ team surging at the right time.
“I knew I wanted to have a big senior year since I committed to North Georgia,” Pickvet said. “I just want to be ready [for college] and want to help this team.”
West needed his help, for South starter Anthony Trovato was nearly as dominant. The War Eagles’ senior allowed just four hits and struck out eight. There were lapses in command (four walks), but Trovato endured with a workmanlike effort to give South a chance.
“He threw a heck of a game,” South head coach Russ Bayer said. “I couldn’t have asked for anything more than that.”