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North Hall takes advantage of West Hall mistakes, earns 7-1 victory

POSTED: April 15, 2014 9:56 p.m.
Jared Putnam | The Times/

North Hall's Drew Atha dives back to the bag ahead of a tag attempt by West Hall first baseman Will Simmons on Tuesday at Jody Davis Field.

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North Hall’s team motto this season is “find a way.” It’s a simple three-word saying meant to motivate the players to win on any given night, regardless of the obstacles that stand in the way.

As it turns out, the Trojans did just that Tuesday night, overcoming unseasonably frigid temperatures and a lack of hits to earn a decisive 7-1 win over West Hall in a pivotal Region 7-AAA matchup.

The Trojans took advantage of seven walks, a pair of hit batsmen and four West Hall errors to get runners on base, then mixed in a few bunts and infield singles to advance runners and support a consistent pitching performance by junior Corbin Lewallen to earn the win at Jody Davis Field.

With the win, the Trojans (15-6, 13-3 Region 7-AAA) secured at least the No. 2 seed for the state playoffs and home field advantage in the first round, as they currently hold a three-game lead and tiebreaker over the Spartans with just three games remaining in the regular season. Top-ranked Buford sits in first place.

“As far as the second place, it’s really not a concern for us,” North Hall coach Trent Mongero said. “To be honest, we’re still playing for that one spot. We know we have to take care of business (tonight) against Dawson County.”

North Hall accounted for just five hits on the night, but the Trojans managed to take advantage of walks and errors by West Hall (14-7, 10-6) to score two runs in the first inning, three in the second and one in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively.

Andrew Smith was 1 for 2 with a fifth-inning solo home run and scored two runs after he reached base in the first inning on a hit-by-pitch. Lincoln Hewett was 2 for 3 with a walk, a run scored and two RBIs to lead the Trojans at the plate.

“It is very tough,” Smith said. “It’s been weird. It’s been 85 and sunny and great baseball weather to play in. And then it rains yesterday, it rains this morning and then we have to come out and play in this weather with the wind blowing.

“It was tough, but coaches are saying this year to find a way. That’s pretty much what (Mongero) preaches, no matter what the conditions are.”

Coming off back-to-back two-hitters in region play, Lewallen carried yet another two-hitter into the seventh inning on Tuesday night, before he allowed a pair of meaningless singles in the final inning.

While he was able to limit the Spartans’ production, Lewallen struggled with control at times, hitting four batters and walking two. But each time, the left-hander fought back and recorded the necessary outs for the Trojans.

“Corbin maybe didn’t have his best stuff, but he competed,” Mongero said. “And that is what we ask for when you don’t have the most ideal conditions.

“What you really ask for from your pitchers is that when they don’t have their best stuff is that they can give you a chance to win. And he did and that’s why he is our No. 1.”

Smith reached base in the first inning after being hit in the left elbow. He stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error by West Hall pitcher Zach Collins. Micah Strickland and Hewett each walked to load the bases for North Hall, before a West Hall error in centerfield allowed Smith and Strickland to score.

North Hall added three more runs in the second. Taber Mongero opened the inning with a walk and stole second base. McCoy Savage singled and Hewett delivered a two-run double to give the Trojans a 4-0 lead.

On the following at-bat, Lewallen singled into right field to score Hewett.

West Hall’s lone run of the game came in the third inning, when Jacob Miller reached base on a North Hall error and scored on a double by right fielder Cameron Johnson, the Spartans’ leading hitter this season.

The Trojans added a run in the fourth inning when Lewallen scored on an error by the West Hall third baseman. Smith concluded the scoring in the fifth, when he homered over the left field fence, his fourth home run of the season.

“We have to take what the game gives us, day in and day out,” Smith said. “That is a very good ball club and we knew coming in that if we didn’t have our best stuff, or if we weren’t going to hit the ball well, that we were going to have to move guys over or bunt and do the small things.”

North Hall hosts Dawson County tonight, while West Hall hosts Banks County. Both games are slated for a 5:55 p.m. first pitch.


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