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Flowery Branch baseball falters late in 15-6 loss to West Forsyth

POSTED: March 6, 2014 12:22 a.m.
Jared Putnam/The Times

Flowery Branch pitcher Cooper Harrison fields a bunt by West Forsyth's Johnny Cassandra during Wednesday's game in Cumming.

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CUMMING — Flowery Branch suffered from a variety of self-inflicted wounds against West Forsyth, including a few that provided Chris Cullen and Alec Wilson opportunities to compound the damage.

Cullen and Wilson, both juniors, each went 5 for 6 at the plate to help the Wolverines push nine unanswered runs home over the final three innings of a 15-6 victory over the Falcons on Wednesday at West Forsyth.

Three different Flowery Branch (3-3) pitchers combined for seven walks and two hit batsmen, while the defense committed three errors and a mental mistake that led to another late run.

Meanwhile Cullen, who is verbally committed to South Carolina, finished the night with three doubles and six RBIs.

“We can’t continue to make the bonehead plays and make errors and expect to win ball games, especially against good ball clubs,” Flowery Branch coach Scott Myers said.

“(West Forsyth) did a very good job of swinging the bat.”

Flowery Branch escaped more than one jam through the first 4« innings and entered the bottom of the fifth inning in a 6-6 tie with the help of a strong night from the top of the batting order.

Leadoff hitter Jonathan Hughes (2 for 3) and No. 2 hitter Justin Seabolt (3 for 3) combined to reach base a total of seven times in the game, while starting pitcher Dylan Gibeau helped himself by going 2 for 4 with 3 RBIs while batting cleanup.

Gibeau’s sacrifice fly in the first inning gave the Falcons an early 1-0 lead. He also delivered a run-scoring single in the third to tie the game at 3-3, and later tacked on an RBI double to deep center in the fifth to cut the West Forsyth (6-1) lead to 6-5.

“We put ourselves in peril early with some walks and some errors,” Myers said.

“Early on we did a good job of wiggling out (of trouble) and keeping it close and I thought we swung the bat OK, but defensively we’ve just got to get better, that’s the bottom line.”

The Falcons had a chance for a much bigger inning in the fifth with the bases loaded and nobody out, but Wilson, who is verbally committed to Stanford, came on in relief and allowed only one more run, tying the game 6-6 going into the bottom of the inning.

“Alec looked good coming in there in relief, that was good to see,” said West Forsyth coach Mike Pruitt, who spent two years as an assistant coach at Flowery Branch prior to becoming head coach of the Wolverines.

“He brings something special to that back end of the rotation. He’s (more than) a back-end (caliber) guy, but that’s what we’re going to use him as.”

It was all West Forsyth from that point on.

Cullen led off the bottom of the fifth with a double that hit the third base bag and caromed into the outfield, before advancing to third and scoring on a pair of wild pitches.

That proved to be the only other run the Wolverines needed, but they added two more in the inning, including one after the Falcons failed to attempt a potentially inning-ending double play with only one out, and tacked on six in the bottom of the sixth.

“When you’ve got Alec, who is like 10 for his last 11 or something crazy like that, and Chris who is close to the same, when you get the No. 1 (hitter in the batting order) and No. 3 going like that you’re going to score some runs,” Pruitt said.

“We struggled early, more so on the defensive and pitching side, but our bats kept us one step ahead ... and (our guys) hit it pretty good that last inning and got us the cushion we needed. I’m proud of our hitters, they’re swinging the bat really well, seeing (the ball) really well and making good adjustments.”

For Myers, the game served as notice that the team’s pitching and defense is lagging behind the offense at this early point in the season. The Falcons have scored at least six runs in five of their six games thus far, but they have allowed a total of 37 runs in their three losses.

“We’ve got three games left before region play starts. At some point we’ve got to stop not being able to execute,” Myers said.

“I think we’re fine, we just have to shore up some things.”

Flowery Branch is scheduled to face Centennial at 5:55 p.m. on Tuesday in Roswell. West Forsyth hosts Sprayberry at 1 p.m. on Saturday.



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