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Lewallen throws 2-hitter in North Hall's 8-2 win over East Hall

POSTED: April 8, 2014 9:32 p.m.

After losing the top three pitchers from last season’s state runner-up team, the North Hall Trojans seem to have found a new ace for their pitching staff.

His name is Corbin Lewallen.

The left-handed Lewallen threw his second straight complete game two-hitter on Tuesday night, leading the Trojans to an 8-2 win over East Hall.

“We lost three starting pitchers and I was just learning from them last year so I could take the job this year,” Lewallen said. “It was just great to have those guys, but it’s my turn. I’m just glad to have guys behind me when I don’t have my best stuff.”

After outdueling White County ace Spencer Adams last Monday, a mere nine days prior to Tuesday’s start, Lewallen was once again nearly unhittable against the Vikings.

The junior finished with seven strikeouts, one walk and two runs allowed (one earned) in a complete game effort, while using his defense behind him to record easy outs.

The major component to his success the past few starts has been his ability to get healthy, after fighting a nagging hamstring injury early in the preseason. Now that Lewallen is back to full strength, he’s exactly the type of pitcher Trojans (12-6, 10-3 Region 7-AAA) coach Trent Mongero expected him to be.

“That was a long recovery, very slow,” Mongero said. “And I think he’s over that physically and mentally. We knew he’d be our No. 1 coming into the year and he’s proven just that. It’s been nice to add him to the rotation.”

Lewallen’s only mistake of the night came in the third inning, when East Hall’s Hunter Buffington hit a towering solo home run to straightaway center field, giving the Vikings an early 2-1 lead. From there, Lewallen calmed down and retired six straight batters before issuing his only walk of the night in the fifth inning to leadoff batter Jacob Chase, who was erased on a pickoff.

Lewallen then struck out three of the final six batters — he admitted after the game that he felt like he was getting stronger as the game went on — to secure the win for North Hall and keep the Trojans in sole possession of the No. 2 seed in Region 7.

“Corbin is a good pitcher,” East Hall coach Wesley Crow said. “The kid is left handed, he’s able to mix his pitches pretty well. I mean, he had a good night; it’s hard to beat a kid like that when he has a night like that when he’s locating all his pitches.”

North Hall gave Lewallen plenty of run support, despite falling into a 2-1 hole in the third inning. In the bottom of the third, Lincoln Hewett hit a three-run home run to centerfield — his first homer of the season — to give the Trojans a 5-2 advantage. They added another run in fourth, fifth and sixth innings, respectively.

Andrew Smith scored North Hall’s run in the fourth inning. The Air Force football signee reached base on a single and then stole every base, including home, showing why he is one of the most dangerous baserunners Mongero has seen in his 23 years of coaching.

Smith finished the night 2 for 3 with a run scored, three stolen bases and a pair of RBIs.

“Andrew is a very special base runner, he really is,” Mongero said. “In my 23 years, I’ve never seen somebody run the bases as good as he does. He’s a threat when he gets on and he’s a huge distraction for the defense and the pitcher. We often get good pitches because of him. He’s just a catalyst.”

Hewett, who finished the night 3 for 3 with three runs scored and three RBIs, scored the Trojans’ run in the fifth inning. He reached base on a walk, the first of three issued to Trojan runners in the inning, before he scored from third base when Smith was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

Micah Strickland scored the Trojans’ final run in the sixth inning. Strickland reached base on a single, stole second, advanced to third on a single from Hewett and scored on a Stephen Murray sacrifice fly to left field.

“(Hewett)’s a really good hitter and he’s capable of hitting home runs,” Mongero said. “More importantly, he’s trying to square the ball up and he did just that tonight with three hits and a massive home run to centerfield. He was clutch in our lineup.”

East Hall scored its first run of the game in the bottom of the second inning, taking advantage of back-to-back North Hall errors. Vikings catcher Caleb Holtzclaw reached base when Smith couldn’t handle a grounder at short, and pitcher Jacob Hagwood reached base on an error by Drew Atha at third.

Holtzclaw, who advanced to third on a wild pitch, scored on a ground out by Tristen Cooper.

While the win keeps North Hall in the running for a postseason berth and homefield advantage in the first round, East Hall remains on the outside of the playoff race.

The Vikings are in fifth place in the region, and still have games remaining against all four current playoff teams, including a pair against North Hall.

“We’ve just got to be consistent, that’s our thing,” Crow said. “If we can be consistent day in, day out, then we can play those games a little bit tighter and give ourselves a chance to win. That’s the key to win.”

East Hall hosts North Hall in Game 2 of the back-to-back meetings tonight at 5:55 p.m.


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