EAST BEND — If only one word can be used to describe the 2021 Forbush Falcons baseball team, that word would be resilient. The definition of resilient is someone who is able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions. This word encapsulates the Forbush baseball team and their run through the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2A playoffs. As of Saturday night, the Falcons made history by being only the fourth team in Forbush baseball history to reach the Western Regional Finals.
The road to the Finals has not been an easy one for the red and blue, but it has been an exciting one. Forbush came into the 2021 playoffs as a 13 seed, which many would consider an unlucky number. For the Falcons things could not be further from the truth. Forbush has used the 13 seed to their advantage, as they have taken wins over three top ranked teams.
In the first round, the Falcons travelled to Hickory where they faced off against No. 4 seeded Bunker Hill High School. Forbush made quick work at the plate to drive in eight runs over seven innings. The first inning started off with Forbush putting two runs in to score. The first run was scored as Logan Beane hit a hard fly ball into center field which brought Cannon Doub across the plate. Beane was then brought around the bases off of a hit by Adam Conrad to give Forbush a 2-0 lead. The Falcons added one run in the top of the third inning, one in the fifth, two in the sixth and two in the seventh. Forbush earned its first upset of the playoffs taking down the No. 4 seed by a score of 8-0.
For the second round, Forbush took to the road again as they faced off against West Wilkes. The Blackhawks were sitting on an undefeated 15-0 record and had just captured the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference title. Forbush once again got to work quickly in the batter’s box, as they knocked in three runs in the top of the first inning. Although Forbush started off strong, the Blackhawks answered back in the bottom of the inning with three runs of their own. The runs by West Wilkes effectively tied the game 3-3.
Over the next five innings, neither team was able to bring a run into score. It was not until the top of the sixth inning that Forbush capitalized on West Wilkes’ errors and were able to score the go-ahead run. Dawson Graham started things off with a single to center field, which was followed up with a double by Beane. With runners at second and third, Caleb Boles put down a perfect bunt right in front of home plate. West Wilkes scrambled to come up with a play which in turn gave the Falcons ample opportunity to score two runs. Boles reached first base on an error, while Graham and Beane scored to give Forbush a 5-3 lead.
Forbush continued its sixth inning rally with Peyton Wall putting down a bunt to score Boles. Two batters later, Wall scored on a error to give the Falcons a 7-3 lead. In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Falcons allowed only one run. Forbush had successfully taken down the undefeated Blackhawks to move on to the third round of the NCHSAA playoffs.
After successfully coming through the first two rounds as the underdog, the Falcons were set to face off against their toughest opponent in the third round. Forbush travelled to the Lake Norman area where they were set up for a game against East Lincoln. Earlier in the week East Lincoln had taken a win over West Stokes, which was Forbush’s nemisis this season in conference play. Along with that stat, East Lincoln also had four D1 commits on their roster. A feat which is impressive in its own right. Forbush knew they were going to have to come out swinging if they wanted to advance past the mustangs, and the Falcons did just that.
Forbush fell behind early in the first inning, with East Lincoln scoring three runs for a 3-0 lead. The Falcons were unable to answer back until the top of the fourth inning when Graham singled to left field to score Conrad. With a run on the board, the Falcons started to get their groove back and take control of the game. On the mound, Spencer Hodges made quick work of the Mustangs throwing strike after strike. Back in the batter’s box, Forbush knocked in a run in the top of the sixth inning off of a hit by Reid Coe.
After six complete innings, Forbush trailed East Lincoln 3-2. The Falcons had one more chance at bat to turn things around if they were going to advance to the Western Regional Finals. The tension in the air was palpable as Forbush took to the plate in the top of the inning. Things started off with Forbush drawing two walks to put runners on first and second base with no outs on the board. Conrad then stepped up for the Falcons, and on a 2-2 count he made the most of his time at the plate. Conrad hit a had line drive into center field which sent the Falcons around the bases. As the Mustangs’ fielder came up with the ball, Coach Jack Moss sent Doub towards home plate for the tying run. Doub slide across the plate just as the ball was caught by the catcher, and the Falcons had tied the game 3-3.
The run by the Falcons quieted down the home fans and put the Forbush fans on their feet. The Falcon faithful started pouring their support into the team, and the tide started to turn. As the cheer started to get louder, Casey Graham came to the plate and knocked in another run for his team off of a hit to left field. The fans in the stands saw the light at the end of the tunnel, as the Falcons kept putting runs across the plate in the top of the inning. Forbush had taken control of the game, as they held on to a 7-3 lead over the Mustangs.
Although Forbush had the lead they still had to calm things back down to take the field for the bottom of the inning. The Falcons put together a double play for the first two outs, as Henry Logan tagged second and threw the runner out at first. The next play was the final play of the night, with Beane coming up with the play at second for the third and final out. The Falcons had successfully upset East Lincoln to take a 7-4 win and advance to the Western Regional Finals.
The Falcons are only the fifth male team in school history to make it to the NCHSAA Western Regional final in any male sport. This is the first time since 2006 that the Falcons have made it the the Western finals, that same year Forbush fell in the State Championship. Before 2006, the Falcons made appearances in 1969 where they lost in the Western Final and 1971 where they were State Champion runner-up.
Forbush has been the underdog through three rounds of the NCHSAA playoffs, and they do not plan on giving up anytime soon. The Falcons travelled to R-S Central on Tuesday night for the Western Regional Finals. Results were not available by press deadline.
Reach Kristian on Twitter @yadkinelksports