It was Friday morning, and the North Forney Falcons were preparing to play the cross-town rival Forney Jackrabbits. My teammates and I were joking about cleaning our lockers out Monday morning, but I didn’t yet know the next 24 hours would be the best of my life.
On Senior Night for the Jackrabbits, Forney had one of their stud pitchers on the mound, Jonathan Childress. He had about an 88-92 mph fastball, with an above-average off-speed arsenal, in his left arm. The Texas A&M commit had thrown three no-hitters throughout the season.
We came into the game at 7-6 and in fifth place in district 15-5a. Forney was 12-1. We needed third place Lovejoy, 8-5, to lose and fourth place Wylie East, 8-5, to lose just to get a tie-breaker game. Every odd was stacked against us.
We were clearly the underdogs. We enjoyed it. Nobody expected us to win the game; nobody expected us to even be 7-6. Forney went through their Senior Night festivities, and I honestly watched it with hatred in my eyes. I never wanted to win a game so bad in my entire life.
The Jackrabbits drew first blood in the bottom half of the second and took a 2-0 lead. I came up to bat in the third and drew a walk. Although Childress was a lefty, I could read him like a book. I took off to swipe second and I was in there safely.
“Yes! Yes! Yes!” is what I heard from the dugout. If there was one thing I could count on, it was our dugout being alive.
We went scoreless in the third, but Forney scratched out its third run of the game to go up 3-0. Things weren’t looking good. The only thing going our way was Childress’ pitch count. His control was off, and his pitch count kept rising. We were able to grind out at bats and draw walks, but we couldn’t plate any.
The top half of the sixth came around, and we knew Childress was running out of pitches due to the pitch count limit in Texas high school baseball rules. If Forney’s starter didn’t throw a complete game, they were in trouble.
The dogs were ready to feast. They brought in a right hander who could maybe touch 80 if he had a strong wind at his back. We scratched off a run in the top half of the sixth to make it 3-1.
The dogs started to drool; the pitches were served up on a platter for us. It was a hit parade. We scored one, made it 3-2. We had runners on second and third with two down. Down to our last life, the crowd was roaring, and Jordan Black came up. I can still see it today: Black smacks the ball to right-center and plates the two runs, giving the Falcons the 4-3 advantage.
We shut them down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh and won 4-3. The Falcons owned the entire town of Forney that night. We brought out our “W” flag, identical to the Chicago Cubs flag they fly after every win and paraded it around the field. April 28, 2017 was the night of the Wardawg.
Not only did we win to get to 8-6, but both Lovejoy and Wylie East lost to fall to 8-6. It was a three-way tie and we were set to play the next day for a spot in the playoffs.
It wasn’t until about 2 a.m. we found out we had to play Wylie East at 10 a.m. at Highland Park. A win and we made the playoffs. A loss and the win against Forney no longer meant anything.
Our head coach, Zach Geer, came over to us before the game.
“I just talked to their coach and they weren’t expecting to play us this morning,” said Geer. “They don’t want to be here.”
We could have beaten the 1927 New York Yankees if they lined up against us that day.
We defeated Wylie East 4-1 and officially secured ourselves the first playoff spot in North Forney baseball history. We celebrated and flew our “W” flag around the field once again. However, we weren’t done.
Lovejoy came in and we had to play them to decipher the three and four seed. We handled them and won 4-0. We had just gone from 7-6 and out, to 10-6 and in. The North Forney Falcons won three games in less than 24 hours to propel us into the playoffs.
We never quit. We played one pitch at a time. There were 20 of us. We were best friends. We won. We are winners. The first winners in school history. A title nobody can ever take away. Wardawgs don’t flinch.
By Ben Swanger, guest writer