Titans fall in fourth round at Charlotte Providence

Published 12:33 am Tuesday, May 24, 2022

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Coach Brad Bullard lauds his team’s effort all season, thanks 10 seniors

“That’s they way the ball bounces” can sum up West Forsyth’s heartbreaking loss to Charlotte Providence last Friday in the fourth round of the NCHSAA 4-A state baseball tournament.

West lost 4-3 after the winning run scored in the bottom of the sixth inning after an errant pick-off attempt to first base. The ball bounded off a stone wall that surrounds the field and rolled into the bullpen area in right field, allowing the runner on first to come all the way around to score.

Providence (31-0) was unbeaten and ranked No. 7 in the country by Baseball America heading into the game.

The Titans threatened in the top of the seventh when Patrick Showers, the No. 2 hitter in the lineup, singled to lead off the inning and eventually advanced to third base.

“We have our No. 3, 4 and 5 hitters coming up and we thought we were in good shape,” Bullard said. “Bryson Chandler, who has been swinging it really well, came up and we were going to give him an opportunity to swing the bat. We ran into one of those things as coaches of ‘do we bunt or do we hit.’ He ran the count to 2-0, a great hitter’s count. Then he had a check swing on a slider for 2-1. Then I asked Bryson to lay down a sacrifice bunt and he did that. So, at that point we have a runner on second, the game-tying run, and one out, with our No. 4 and No. 5 hitters coming up.

“Jack Vest came up and basically had a swinging bunt. He hustled down the line and hit the bag. I think everybody in the ballpark thought he was safe, but he was called out. Patrick (Showers) got to third, so at that point, we’ve got two outs and a runner on third with Lucas Manning coming up. Lucas has been clutch for us all year and they intentionally walked him. Cam Daly came up, who had a big hit earlier in the game and put a great swing on a ball that got hit really hard right back up the middle. I don’t know how in the world the pitcher got it, but he made a phenomenal grab on it and threw us out for the final out.”

West jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first and Bullard said it may easily have been 3-0.

“The stone wall got us there, too,” Bullard said. “We had a runner on third and there was a passed ball, and he was going to score, but things couldn’t have happened any better for Providence than they did. It hit the stone and kicked back hard, right to the catcher. Our runner had to put the brakes on and we got into a pickle and we got out. You lose games like that by one run and you replay those little things in your mind and it hurts. That being said, we had plenty of opportunities throughout the game. We had runners on a few times and we just couldn’t come up with that big hit.”

West finished the season a 25-6 record and the Central Piedmont 4-A Conference Tournament Championship, the second-most wins in Bullard’s tenure in the program (15 years as an assistant coach and head coach).

Bullard’s first team as a head coach won the 4-A state title in 2014 and finished with 29 wins.

“I couldn’t be prouder of this group and what they accomplished this season,” Bullard said. “I told them that to win 25 games in a high school season is really, really hard to do. The 10 seniors we had really bought in and pulled for each other. Everyone did. That’s what special teams do. These guys had plenty of fight in them right until the very end and that’s all you can ask for. Friday night was just one of those nights where it didn’t roll our way.”