FOREST CITY, N.C. - The Forest City Owls started the 2019 season on a high note Monday night, with a 7-4 exhibition win at McNair Field, beating the Gastonia Grizzlies. The win occurred in comeback fashion, with the Owls turning a 4-1 deficit into a 7-4 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Owls' pitching staff held their own in the win, despite only six pitchers being available to play in the game. Forest City starter Jacob Bradley allowed two runs in three innings, striking out two, and walking three. Jacob Taglieri followed, allowing one run in three effective innings of relief, striking out five. After Wesley Glass pitched a one-run fifth inning, Matt Harrison struck out four and walked one in two scoreless innings. He was the winning pitcher in relief.
The Forest City pitching staff outlasted that of Gastonia, despite the Grizzlies allowing no runs through the first six innings. The Grizzlies used nine pitchers in the loss. The losing pitcher was Josh Wilder of the Grizzlies, who allowed four runs after only getting one out in the eighth inning.
The Owls collected seven unanswered runs to win the game. Gastonia took a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning, getting there with RBI hits from Josh Haney, Luke Leisenring, Lawson Harrill, and Bill Hanna.
Forest City scored one run in the 7th inning off an RBI sacrifice fly from Justin Guy, scoring Gehrig Christopher to cut the Gastonia lead to 4-1. In the eighth, a sac fly from Matt Lumsden scored Kirby Lambert, before an RBI walk from Guy brought home Chasten Gordon, making the Gastonia lead 4-3. Garrett Blaylock, who is returning to Forest City after playing for the Owls last season, came through with the game-winning two-run double, scoring Collin Watt and Gehrig Christopher, giving the Owls a 5-4 lead. Wild pitches would follow to add two insurance runs, scoring Guy and Blaylock.
The Owls collected seven runs on seven hits in the win. They committed two errors and stranded nine runners on base. Gastonia scored four runs on four hits, left eight runners on base, and didn't commit an error. The two teams will play another exhibition game tomorrow at Sims Legion Park in Gastonia, with first pitch scheduled for 7:00 pm. Unlike tonight's nine-inning game, the game tomorrow will only last seven innings.