Alex DeCubellis is making up for lost time.
After being sidelined by injury through most of the Region 6-AAAAA games to date, DeCubellis backed up a strong pitching performance by Trevor Guthrie on Wednesday with three hits and three RBI, leading West Forsyth to a 7-1 win over North Forsyth at Raider Field.
It was a crucial victory that kept the Wolverines (11-10, 3-5 region) — who had lost three consecutive games coming into the day — from dropping into last place in the region. Instead, West is now tied for fifth place and only one game behind third-place Roswell and fourth-place Centennial. Despite the loss, North (7-14, 4-3) remained in second place by a half-game.
DeCubellis (3-for-4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R) gave West an early 2-0 lead with a first-inning home run to left-center field off North starting pitcher Trevor Sams and finished a triple shy of the cycle.
“We’ve missed him,” West coach Mike Pruitt said of DeCubellis. “There are a couple of guys in our lineup, when they take batting practice every day it’s a thing to watch, and he’s one of them. He’s huge in our lineup because he swings it so good.”
DeCubellis added an RBI double to deep right-center in the third — scoring Brent Odum for the second time in the game — and came around to score on an RBI groundout by Will Skidmore to put West on top 4-0.
“I just got a couple of fastballs to hit,” DeCubellis said. “I was looking for [those pitches] early in the count, so I jumped on them.”
Guthrie’s only shaky inning came in the bottom of the frame. After recording the first two outs, the senior right-hander issued two walks and surrendered his only hit of the game — an infield single to Nick Aiken — to load the bases.
Guthrie (5 IP, 8 K, ER, H, 7 BB) then walked Nick Fernandez, forcing in a run, before striking out Michael Henderson to end the inning.
“I started feeling like I was throwing hard in the Milton game last week, and I guess it’s just [about] not rushing what I do,” Guthrie said, nodding to his coach, “not rushing to the plate in my rhythm.”
Said Pruitt: “I thought he pitched great. He pitched, he didn’t just throw.”
North wasn’t able to build any momentum after getting on the scoreboard.
Lance Belue kept the top of the fourth going for West with a two-out single to left, and Graham Bunting (2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, R) followed with a two-run homer to center field, increasing the lead to 6-1.
The Wolverines tacked on their final run in the sixth courtesy of a bases-loaded walk to Jordan Cain, while Jonathan Kizzar and Drew Robbins pitched one scoreless inning apiece in relief of Guthrie.
“Give West credit, they swung the bats and did a great job,” North coach Jim Cahill said. “We had some guys on. We could have scored some runs early and made the score a little different, made it a tight ballgame, and we didn’t get it done.”
Pruitt said it was the kind of outing he’s been looking for from the team, and the Wolverines will likely need more of them if they hope to make the playoffs. With four region games remaining, West likely needs to win at least three of them to reach the postseason.
“I told our guys, I said, ‘You screwed up now in two ways,’ and they kind of looked at me [funny],” Pruitt said. “‘One, you got yourselves right back into the mix of things and two, you’ve proven that you can play a darn-near perfect baseball game and that we can take care of our business. So, there are no more excuses.”