EAST BEND — A nine-year drought as conference champions finally came to an end for the Forbush baseball team on Tuesday night.
The Falcons (14-7, 8-1) fell behind early but rallied for a 6-3 victory over Surry Central, clinching the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference title. It was Forbush’s first regular season championship since 2007, and the seventh under head coach Jack Moss, who returned to the program in 2016 after a seven-year hiatus.
“I would have never guessed we’d win one this year with this group,” Coach Moss said. “Five sophomores, four juniors and basically two seniors that get regular playing time. We’ve had to teach them a ton, but it is really rewarding to see how far we’ve come this fast.”
Surry Central (12-11, 5-4) came into Tuesday’s game with an outside chance at the WPAC title. The Eagles needed to sweep their two-game series with Forbush this week, but the Falcons took care of business in the opener.
Central got off to a good start and seized some early momentum after taking a 2-0 lead in the top of the second. Garrett Durham, who went 2-3 on the evening, led things off with a single to right. After a flyout, Garrett Johnson and Chandler Daughenbaugh recorded infield singles to load the bases with just one out.
Noah Wilmoth came to the plate and scored the opening run thanks to a Forbush error. Riley Dockery was the next batter, and he gave the Eagles a 2-0 lead with a RBI groundout to second. Surry Central loaded the bases again in the inning, but the Eagles stranded all three runners.
Forbush responded with a run in the bottom of the inning before Surry Central once again threatened in the top of the third. Tyler Myers reached base on an error, and Durham smoked a double into right field to start things off. The Eagles had runners on second and third with no outs.
However, Jack Crews settled in on the mound for Forbush and struck out the next three Surry Central batters. Myers did score on a balk by Crews to make it 3-1, but the Falcons minimized the damage.
At the time, Surry Central coach Matt Scott didn’t think the early missed opportunities would prove costly for his ball club, but Crews got stronger as the game wore on and struck out eight batters in a complete-game effort. He stranded 11 Golden Eagle baserunners.
“I guess I would have had a better feeling if we would have driven some of those guys in,” Coach Scott said. “It’s hard to quantify clutch performances… But we have to find a way to step up there when there’s nobody out, runners on second and third, and put the ball in play.”
Jed Kidd, Surry Central’s pitcher on Tuesday, kept the score at 3-1 until the Falcon bats came alive in the bottom of the fourth. Forbush scored three runs on four hits, and Tyler Campbell capped things off with a roped two-run homer over the left field wall that gave the Falcons a 4-3 lead.
Forbush kept its foot on the pedal and Carter Foster launched a solo home run on the first pitch of the bottom of the fifth for a 5-3 lead. Campbell and Foster are the only two Forbush players with home runs this season, and they came through for their team with a championship on the line.
“It’s fun to watch those guys swing the bat,” Coach Moss said. “They both were aggressive in good hitters’ counts. Tyler is so good going the other way, so it was cool to see him pull one out of here.”
While the Falcons have wrapped up the conference title, Surry Central still has a lot to play for in Friday’s rematch. The Eagles are now locked in a three-way tie with North Surry and South Stokes for second place in the conference, and a win against Forbush in the regular-season finale will clinch a spot in the NCHSAA playoffs.
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16