Baseball: North Gwinnett shuts out Forsyth Central to win decisive Game 3

April 30, 2023
2 mins read
Baseball: North Gwinnett shuts out Forsyth Central to win decisive Game 3

SUWANEE -– Worth the wait.

After splitting Friday’s doubleheader – which included a heartbreaking 8-7 loss in a nine-inning thriller in Game 2 – the North Gwinnett Bulldogs punched their ticket to the Class 7A state quarterfinals after taking down Forsyth Central, 5-0, on Saturday afternoon in Game 3.

The Bulldogs were in a position to sweep Forsyth Central and advance into the Class 7A state quarterfinals on Friday night after winning Game 1 in dominant fashion 17-10. They went on to take a 6-3 lead in the seventh inning, only to lose in the ninth inning, 8-7, after two Forsyth Central rallies in the seventh and ninth.

But on Saturday, the Bulldogs redeemed themselves with a 5-0 shutout.

Baseball: North Gwinnett shuts out Forsyth Central to win decisive Game 3

Photo by Colin Hubbard

Justin Bowman earned the win on the mound for the Bulldogs while Tyler Bak was one of the heroes on offense, launching a 2-run homer in the third inning to give the Bulldogs all of the offense they needed to win.

Both games on Friday were as wild as they get.

The Bulldogs jumped out to a 7-0 lead after the first inning before letting Forsyth Central tie the game up at 7-7 two innings later. The Bulldogs then regained the lead in the bottom of the third and never looked back.

North scored their 17 runs on 19 hits, including three from Bak, Erik Parker and Koa Kloehs. Ryan Hall was awarded the win on the mound for the Bulldogs after reliving starter Gavin Zoeller in the third.

Hall went on to toss the final five innings, allowing four runs on 10 hits, and victory was never in doubt thanks to their hot bats.

In Game 2, a low-scoring affair for the first six innings turned into absolute chaos in innings 7-9.

Deadlocked at 3-3 heading into the top of the seventh after a great pitching duel between North starter Brodie Baweja and Central starter Alex Hernandez, it was the host Bulldogs who put themselves in a position to win the game and the series.

Baweja helped himself with a two-out RBI single to give North a 4-3 lead, and Nathan Kindland followed that with his second two-run homer of the game to extend their lead to 6-3.

But that wasn’t enough.

Central led off the bottom of the seventh with back-to-back singles, chasing Baweja from teh game. With Trey James in to pitch for the Bulldogs, and he was unable to close the door.

Baseball: North Gwinnett shuts out Forsyth Central to win decisive Game 3

Photo by Colin Hubbard

Down to their last strike and the score already trimmed down to 6-4, Central nine-hole hitter Bryson Kuhn fouled off back-to-back pitches before lining a single into the right-centerfield gap to knot the game at 6-6.

After a scoreless eighth, North regained the lead, 7-6 in the top of the ninth after James helped himself with an RBI single to left that scored Parker.

Heading to the bottom of the ninth with another great chance to put Forsyth Central away, the Bulldogs were unable to do so.

Braden Wudi led off the inning with a double to left, and that chased James, who was replaced on the mound by Parker, who entered the game cold after playing the last eight innings at shortstop.

Parker hit his first batter, and then a wild pitch moved the tying and winning runs into scoring position for Forsyth Central.

They got the game tied on a sacrifice fly to center, and then won the game on an infield single off the bat of Kuhn, 8-7 to force a Game 3 on Saturday.

Kuhn, Forsyth Central’s nine-hole hitter, was the man responsible for their seventh-inning comeback, and their walk-off winner in the ninth.

In Game 3, Back returned to the Bulldogs’ starting lineup after leaving with an injury in Game 2 Friday night and came up huge with a 2-run homer in the third.

Bowman, who was dominant through the first four innings, worked himself out of major trouble in the fifth. Facing Hernandez with the bases loaded and two outs, Bowman got him to fly out oo deep center to keep the Bulldogs out in front 2-0.

They then tacked on three insurance runs in the fifth, and Zoeller pitched the final two innings for the Bulldogs to preserve the 5-0 shutout victory.

With the win, the Bulldogs will travel to face Lowndes in the Class 7A quarterfinals.

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