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Solid pitching, timely hitting propels North Hall past Gilmer

POSTED: April 7, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Scott Rogers/The Times

North Hall's Josh Wright delivers a pitch during the Trojans Wednesday evening game with Gilmer County at Jody Davis Field at North Hall High.

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GAINESVILLE — Prior to Wednesday night, the baseball teams in Region 7-AAA had no answer for Gilmer’s high-powered offense. And then the Bobcats played North Hall.

The Trojans limited Gilmer to two runs on five hits and defeated the Bobcats 11-2 on Wednesday at Jody Davis Field.

With the loss, Gilmer (9-2, 6-1 Region 7-AAA) moves into a tie with Gainesville for the lead in Region 7-AAA. North Hall is now in a three-way tie with Flowery Branch and White County for third place.

"This is a crazy region," North Hall coach Trent Mongero said. "We’ve been playing hot and cold and tonight we were hot."

The Trojans (8-3, 5-2) were hot right out of the gate against the Bobcats. Josh Haymore took the first pitch he saw and drove it to the wall in right field for a leadoff triple. Haymore scored two batters later on a sacrifice fly by Jake Canipe. The Trojans tacked on two more runs in the first inning on RBI singles from Josh Wright and Taylor Daniels.

With a three run lead, Wright took control on the mound and kept the vaunted Gilmer offense in check. Prior to Wednesday’s game, the Bobcats had won nine straight games, were undefeated in Region 7-AAA and averaged 10.5 runs per game against region opponents.

Wright did not let those numbers faze him, as the senior struck out three batters and faced the minimum over the first three innings.

"I just tried to hit my spots and keep them off balance," said Wright, who threw 59 of his 86 pitches (68 percent) for strikes and had seven strikeouts in the complete game win. Wright also had a strong night at the plate, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs.

Even when he wasn’t on the field, the Shorter College signee had an effect on the game, as his courtesy runner Graham Duncan stole two bases and scored two runs for the Trojans.

The lone smudge on Wright’s outing came in the fourth inning, when Gilmer’s Ethan Watkins connected on a two-run home run over the right field wall to make the score 4-2.

The blast seemed to initially rattle Wright as he threw three straight balls to the next batter he faced, Kenny Lakins.

But after a visit from North Hall’s coach, Wright settled down. He came back to record the strikeout on three pitches and then got Chase Queen to fly out to right field to end the Bobcats’ threat.

"I just told him to stay within himself and not over pitch," Mongero said.

While the Bobcats were finally able to get to Wright, North Hall answered back in the home half of the fourth inning.

The Trojans scored six runs on five hits to take a commanding 10-2 lead. The big hit of the inning came off the bat of Jackson Coker, who smashed a two-run home run over the fence in center field. Coker finished the game 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a run scored.

"What I’m most proud of is how Gilmer scored two and then we came in and put in six runs," Mongero said. "I’m proud of the way we responded to their threat."

North Hall finished its scoring in the fifth inning, when Wright hit a sacrifice fly that scored K.J. McAllister, who led off the inning with a double off the bottom of the left field fence.

McAllister finished the game going 1-for-2 with an RBI and two runs scored for the Trojans.

Taylor Daniels (2-for-4 with an RBI and one run scored) also contributed on offense for North Hall.

"This was a good night for us from one through nine in the batting order," Wright said. "Everybody contributed to this win tonight.

"This is a big win for us," he added. "It’s going to be a crazy year in the region and we’re going to have to come out and play hard everynight."

North Hall visits Pickens at 5:30 p.m. on Friday in Jasper. Gilmer plays host to Lumpkin County at 5:30 p.m. Friday.



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