Falcons knock off Wilkes Central in thriller
by Matthew Gorry
EAST BEND - With the top 2A spot in the conference on the line, the Falcons turned in a complete team performance Friday night in East Bend.
Forbush held on for the wild 7-5 victory over three-time defending league champion Wilkes Central to take control in the 2A race in the Mountain Valley Conference.
“It was a huge win for us,” head coach Denny Key said. “They kept chipping away, chipping away - I knew Wilkes Central wasn’t going to lay down, so we couldn’t quit either. My boys put up a fight tonight. I’m proud of them.
“I will never say we are in control of anything. One, I don’t want to give anybody else bulletin board material. And two, I have to make sure my guys understand that we have a job to do Tuesday,” he continued. “But it’s nice to be sitting where we are right now.”
The Falcons got to Eagle ace Austin Staley early, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Austin Levengood smacked a two-RBI double to the left-center gap before Neil Hutchens laid down a perfect suicide squeeze to score another run.
In the second, Nelson Valerio came around to score on back-to-back pass balls to push Forbush’s lead out to 4-0 early. Key said those early runs were crucial for his team.
“Anytime you have a guy like Austin on the mound, it’s huge to get those early runs like that,” he explained. “Getting that early lead was huge because it helps the mentality of my guys.”
But Wilkes Central stormed back. After plating a run in the third, the Eagles cut the deficit to one at 4-3 on a Hank Prevette single in the fifth.
With momentum shifting to the visiting dugout, Forbush responded in a big way in the sixth.
Hutchens plated his second run of the game on a RBI single to center. Two batters later, Valerio roped another run-scoring single to left to push the lead out to 6-3.
After the Falcons loaded the bases with two outs, Barrett Hennings smacked a high chopper to second base that allowed another critical insurance run to cross the plate in a three-run sixth inning.
But as Key expected, the Eagles made a strong run in the seventh trailing 7-3.
After the first two batters reached, Prevette plated another run with an infield single to third. Central tacked on a second run on a fielder’s choice groundout to short to trim the deficit down to 7-5.
But Mason Doub buckled down and induced a game-ending groundout to give Forbush the thrilling 7-5 triumph.
“I know what kind of program Coach [Terry] Johnson has, so it is a big win for us,” Key explained. “I still have to guard that fine line of enjoying this when but making sure when East Wilkes comes in here Tuesday that we don’t forget what we have to do. I have to make sure they stand grounded.
“I about had a coronary in that last inning - I told them they aged me. But it was a good win,” he added.
The Falcons, now 6-2 in conference play, look to build on the win this week with matchups against East Wilkes Tuesday night and Ashe County Thursday night.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.
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