CRESTVIEW — Seth Forrest won't attend his first class at Crestview High School until August, but the incoming freshman has already made an impression on Bulldog baseball coach Tim Gillis.
Forrest showed maturity beyond his years on the pitchers mound during Saturday afternoon’s Justin Richards Scholarship Baseball Tournament. Crestview Gray took a 14-9 win during the "Battle of the Bulldogs" against Marianna.
The win moved Gray into the tournament championship game, where the Bulldogs lost to Baker 7-6.
Gillis called on Forrest in the fourth inning with two outs, the bases loaded and six runs in for Marianna as visitors tied the game 8-8.
Forrest got a strike out to end the inning. He gave up one run and four hits over the last three innings. And Crestview scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and three more in the fifth to roll to the win.
Gillis wasn't surprised to see his young pitcher step up in the pressure situation.
"For me, it's a constant evaluation process," Gillis said. "I felt real good about Seth going in there and throwing strikes. I knew the situation wouldn't be too big for him.
"I know him and I saw him at the middle school level. Just in the week that we've been here, watching his demeanor and the way he handles himself with people intermingling with everybody, I just felt real good about giving him the ball.
“... I was so proud of him. What a way to start your career."
Marianna scored two runs off Crestview starting pitcher Travis Wiljakainen in the first inning. But Wiljakainen bounced back to keep the visitors off the scoreboard in the second and third innings.
Meanwhile, the Bulldog offense was getting cranked up.
Crestview scored a run in the second inning as Pierce Cadenhead reached on an infield hit and later scored on a Wiljakainen double.
Crestview plated seven runs in the third. Hunter Willis had the inning’s big hit, a three-run double that scored Jordan Chamberlain, Forrest and Drew Graham.
Willis, Corey Armstrong, Matt French and Devin Wimmer also scored in the Crestview third inning.
With the game tied 8-8, the Crestview batters went back to work in the bottom of the fourth. Chamberlain, Willis and Graham scored in the inning and French and Wimmer drove in runs as Crestview took the lead once and for all.
Wiljakainen, Bryce Larkins and Chamberlain scored Crestview's runs in the fifth inning.
The Gray team's win over Marianna continued an impressive run through the tournament for the Bulldogs.
Friday morning, Gray beat Northview 9-5 as French and Willis teamed up for the win on the mound.
Graham scored the first Bulldog run in the second inning. He reached second base on a Chief error and later scored on another Northview mistake.
The 1-0 lead didn't last long as Northview scored two runs in the third and three in the fourth to take a 5-1 lead.
The Bulldog offense got untracked in the fourth inning as the first six Crestview batters reached base and scored.
A two-run Armstrong double was the inning’s big blow.
Crestview closed out the scoring with runs by Wimmer and Cadenhead in the fifth inning.
"We did kind of come out a little sluggish, but a lot of that goes to the other team," Gillis said. "I thought they were a good team.
"We kind of got it going late in the game. We battled and hung in there and that's what it takes. The key to everything is being able to overcome adversity."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.