By Dana Harding
Ozark, Mo. — Fair Grove raced out to a strong Friday start in the U.S. Baseball Showdown in the Park.
Two hours after a huge win over Class 1 No. 1 Bell City, the Eagles carried a 4-2 lead into the seventh inning against Class 3, No. 6 Forsyth.
Then the wheels came off.
Forsyth rallied for three runs on zero hits in the final inning to down Fair Grove 5-4.
The Panthers took advantage of three errors, three walks and two hit batsmen in the late comeback.
Kaleb Etheridge, Kendon Doublin and Darrien Woods all touched home for Forsyth in the inning. Pathers head coach Jim Julian praised his team’s patience and resilient nature.
“We took advantage of some mistakes in that inning,” Julian said. “Their pitcher helped us out and put some guys on, but give our guys credit, too, with some good at-bats and working some counts. We’ve done a good job all year of taking advantage of what teams have given us. Today was the same thing, just persistence and a never-say-die attitude down to our final at-bat.”
While Forsyth didn’t tally a single hit in the inning, it came just shy of a huge one to lead things off.
Tyler Groves hit a lead-off rocket to deep centerfield with the potential for three or four bases; however, Fair Grove centerfield Josh Thompson’s running, over-the-shoulder circus catch saved the moment.
Despite a host of defensive miscues, Fair Grove head coach Christian Overstreet was thankful to be in a solid position late in the game with a chance to win.
“I thought, when [Thompson] made that play, we had a good shot at winning the ball game. It was one of those games where you play a good team, and you look up at the scoreboard at the end of the game and see six errors. Against good teams, that’s not going to win a lot of games.”
Thompson went 2-4 at the plate with a triple and three RBIs.
Forsyth starter Caleb Terrell, spotless through four innings, battled through adversity down the stretch to reach the final inning in position for the win.
The right-hander labored through the fifth and was only able to minimize the two-run damage thanks to some timely defensive plays behind him. Terrell’s four hits surrendered in the inning included a monster triple off the wall from Thompson to score Anthony Guynn from second.
“I just knew I had to go right after them,” Terrell said. “If I didn’t, then my pitch count would keep going up. I had to keep getting strikes, ground balls, making them pop up … whatever I had to do to keep my pitch count low.”
Coach Julian was pleased with his starter’s performance and determination to push through adversity.
“Overall, Caleb’s done a good job this year taking the ball and throwing strikes,” Julian said. “Early on, he was doing a good job getting ahead of hitters. Then, he got a little tired in the fifth inning or so. He got a few pitches up that they took advantage of and there were a couple we didn’t make plays on.”
Cale Wallace came in late to retire the final two batters and earn the save for the Panthers.
Both Class 3 District 11 teams are back in action early next week. Forsyth (9-2) travels to Billings on Monday, April 10, while Fair Grove (6-4) hosts Skyline on Tuesday, April 11.