Jack Jolly believes he had the pitching to overcome a loss in the district playoff tournament, go on the road and still advance to the next stage.
Jakob Frishmuth took that scenario out of the equation.
The Carolina Forest senior pitcher threw a complete-game shutout against Stratford on Saturday, leading the Panthers to a 3-0 win in the second round. As a result, he and his teammates will be playing at home on Wednesday night, having two opportunities to win one game and move on to the Lower State tournament.
“After the last two outings, they weren’t bad by any means, but they weren’t what he was accustomed to doing,” Jolly said. “For him to be able to come back out when it matters most and pitch probably the best game of the year, I’m thrilled.”
The Panthers’ only two losses in region play came over the course of the last two weeks. Both came in games that Frishmuth, a College of Charleston signee, started. Those defeats to Sumter and Socastee were only blips in the team’s eventual region championship.
But having Frishmuth at his best in the playoffs is probably necessary given Jolly’s plans to throw him in the biggest games.
Against Stratford, it would be hard to say Frishmuth wasn’t zoned in.
He allowed five hits and struck out seven batters. On top of that, he essentially took the Knights out of their game plan.
It’s good for him to come out and be the Fish that we’ve seen earlier in the year, to dominate. There were a lot of first-pitch strikes, a lot of first outs in the inning, just a total in-control command of the game.
Carolina Forest baseball coach Jack Jolly on pitcher Jakob Frishmuth’s performance Saturday against Stratford
Jolly said the team’s scouting pegged Stratford as a squad that likes to run and bunt. Frishmuth, though, got the first Knights batter of every inning out, something that prevented Stratford from putting that to use.
Paired with Hunter Baiden’s two-run single in the first and an insurance RBI from Dylan Roberts in the fourth, and it was easy to see why the pregame energy the Panthers had continued throughout.
Players were chirping during warm-ups and then in the dugout during the fast-paced game.
“We just have fun out there. It’s natural,” Frishmuth said. “We’re a bunch of goofballs. Most of the time, I don’t know what they’re saying.”
They hope to have the upbeat demeanor going on Wednesday, when they’ll play host to the winner of the Lexington-Stratford elimination game that will take place Monday.
That is thanks to a win that pushed Carolina Forest to 20-5 on the season. It is the third time in program history the school has reached 20 wins in a season, but this may be the most stacked squad Jolly has had.
After Saturday, it was clear that his top pitcher could play a key roll in keeping it going.
“It’s good for him to come out and be the Fish that we’ve seen earlier in the year, to dominate,” Jolly said. “There were a lot of first-pitch strikes, a lot of first outs in the inning, just a total in-control command of the game.”
▪ W: Jakob Frishmuth L: Austin Chesser Top hitters: Stratford: Michael Tarzell 1-3; Justin Walker 1-3; Asher Smith 1-3. Carolina Forest: Jakob Frishmuth 2-2, BB; Hunter Baiden 1-3, 2 RBI; Dylan Roberts 1-3, RBI; Caleb Lindaberry 2-2, BB..
▪ Records: Stratford 18-7; Carolina Forest 20-5.