Clark’s Walk off single sends Schley County to the Final Four

Published 11:45 am Friday, May 12, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

ELLAVILLE – Every baseball player dreams of that one moment, that moment which, in some cases, can define his career. It’s the moment in which he delivers for his team and makes a name for himself. For Schley County third baseman Jack Clark, that moment came on Thursday night when with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, he sent a line drive into centerfield scoring Sam Forehand from third and sending the Wildcats into the GHSA Class A Division 2 Final Four with a 5-4 victory over Wilcox County in the third and deciding Game 3 of the series.

“That was maybe the toughest three game playoff series we’ve ever had,” SCHS Head Coach Chuck Cheek said. “We’ve had some tough ones before, but never where every game was that close and there was that much pressure on every pitch and every play. To say I’m proud of my guys and my coaches is such an understatement. Not many gave us a chance and they found a way.”

Going into the top of the seventh inning, the Wildcats had a 4-3 lead, but a hit batsman and an error led to an RBI single by WCH’s Johnny Nutt, tying the game at 4-4.

In the bottom of the seventh, Jake Little got the Wildcats off to a good start with a single and Jay Kanazawa tried to move pinch runner Sam Forehand to second on a sacrifice bunt, but bunted it to the pitcher, who was able to hold Forehand at first base.

Schley County pinch runner Sam Forehand slides head first into home safely in Game 3.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

However, Carson Westbrook came up with a crucial double that allowed Forehand to advance to third. With one out, Brody Fuller was intentionally walked to load the bases and setting the stage for Clark’s walk off heroics. With the count at 3-2, Clark connected and sent the pitch over the head of the centerfielder. This allowed Forehand to score the winning run and it sent most of Wildcat Park into unbridled joy.

“We executed some huge bunts, moved runners over and had productive outs,” Cheek said. “Carson’s huge double to put us in position, then Jack fouls off tough pitch after tough pitch and bangs one over the center fielders head.”

Cheek also praised the efforts of pitchers Jake Little and Ashton Raybon for their performances on the mound in Game 3.

The Patriots took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning as the result of an error, but the Wildcats responded with two runs on two hits and they took advantage of two errors. Then in the bottom of the fourth, SCHS added two more runs when Brody Smith scored on a passed ball and Sam Forehand stole home plate on a double steal. Aggressive base running by the Wildcats played a key role in this game and it put pressure on the WCH defense, as the Patriots committed two costly errors.

Going into the top of the fifth, SCHS had a 4-1 lead, but the Patriots also made it this far for a reason. With one out and a runner on first, Jake Howell belted a two-run homer over the centerfield fence and the Wildcats only led 4-3. The Patriots would later tie the game at 4-4 in the top of the seventh, but the Wildcats would have the final say on the outcome of the game on Clark’s walk off single.

Schley County freshman pitcher Jake Little gave up two runs on two hits with two walks and one strikeout in a little over two innings of work in the Wildcats dramatic 5-4 victory over Wilcox County in Game 3.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Jake Little went 2 for 2 at the plate to lead the Wildcats’ offense and SCHS got five other hits from Clark, Westbrook, Raybon, Brody Fuller and Brody Smith.

Fuller started the game on the mound for SCHS. In two innings of work, he gave up a run on three hits and had one strikeout. Jake Little came on in relief of Fuller and gave up two runs on two hits with two walks and one strikeout in a little over two innings of work. Ashton Raybon was the final pitcher used by the Wildcats. In 2.2 innings of work, Raybon gave up a run on four hits, walked one and struck out two.

The Wildcats (29-9) will advance to the GHSA Class A Division 2 state semifinals and will host Emmanuel County Institute (ECI) on Tuesday, May 16. Time of first pitch of Game 1 is still to be determined.