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Forest waited four weeks before hosting a game. The Cavs looked like they never missed the place as they took care of Liberty 9-2 on the Forest diamond. "The Seminole District is never easy, no matter who you're playing," said Forest Head Coach Ryan Gilleland. "You've got to win at home"
After spotting the Minutemen a two run lead, Forest piled up all of its runs in the fourth (four runs) and fifth innings (five) as their bats caught fire.
The early going went in Liberty's favor. In the third inning Jake Tanner sacrifice fly and John Hatcher's single gave the Minutemen a two run edge. But starting lefty Trevor Johnston tossed a 1-2-3 top of the fourth. Johnston's teammates went to work in the bottom of that stanza.
Dylan Higley led off with a single and Josh Huffman followed with a base on balls. Bobby Shelton legged out a bunt to load 'em up. Shane Timberlake then knocked a double to center field to tie the score.
Matt Wallman's fielder's choice scored Shelton for the lead. Tyler Brown's infield hit gave the Cavs an insurance run.
"We got some big hits," noted Gilleland. "We punched the clock when we needed to."
In the fifth, two Minutemen singles prompted Gilleland to go to his bullpen. Hard throwing Bobby Shelton was more than up to the task, striking out three straight Liberty batters.
The fifth started out just like the fourth with Higley singling and Huffman showing good patience at the plate in drawing the walk. Shelton stroked one to center for a run. Wallman reached base on an error that scored another.
Bryan Sanderson's hit blazed through the infield, bringing home two more. Liberty Head Coach Stewart Grant went to his pen, bringing in Thomas Schacter. While the freshman gave up a single to Brown, bringing in the fifth run of the inning, and he re-loaded the bases, he was able to close out the inning, minimizing the damage.
Gilleland then turned to right-handed Vince Claudio who shut down things nicely for the team. During his two innings, the only base runner Claudio allowed got there as a result of an error.
Liberty stranded a number of runners over the course of the game, drawing Grant's ire. "Against a team that swings the bat as well as Forest does, any opportunity you get, you've got to take advantage of," he explained.
Starting pitcher Jake Tanner looked solid through the first three innings, only yielding a couple of walks. Schacter did the job he came in to do. But those two aren't the complete answer to the Liberty mound concerns. "We have to find consistency in our pitching," said Grant. "We don't have a power pitcher, so we need to find pitchers who can hit their spots.
JF douses River
Forest made it two straight over county rivals when it invaded Moneta to beat Staunton River 9-2.
Once again, the Cavs spotted their opponent a 2-0 lead, but pitcher Hunter Gordon settled down nicely for the remainder of his six inning appearance, striking out 7 Eagles. "We've got young pitchers and not all of their pitches are clicking early," said Gilleland.
Gilleland pointed to his veteran position players as a soothing influence. "They don't panic when we get down by a couple of runs," he said.
In particular, catcher Josh Huffman seems to be working well with the young arms. "Josh works with the young guys," stated the coach. "Especially between innings."
Staunton River's early offensive output was sparked by Josh LaPradd's RBI double. The burly first baseman has been swinging the bat with authority, as has shortstop Joey West, who stroked two hits on the evening.
The Cavs pieced together a 5-run fourth inning after Staunton River had shut them down decisively in the first three stanzas. Fielding woes by the Eagles helped the Cavs. Shane Timberlake's single combined with a pair of River boots to load the bases. Dylon Higley's single to left resulted in three Cavs crossing the plate.
In the sixth inning, Higley, who appears headed for Bridgewater next year, added the exclamation point with a two run shot over the left field fence. "He's really been focused in at the plate," sad Gilleland of Higley.
Another Cav who has that same focus has been Ragan Rudisill, who smacked a double in going 2-for-4.
Zack Folger relieved in the seventh to close out the game.
Last week, I reported on Liberty's 4-3 extra inning win over Amherst. The name of the Liberty player who hit the game-winning sacrifice fly should have been reported as Aaron Lafon. My apologies.