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Defending state champion North Hall dominates Westminster to open Class 3A playoffs
North Hall's Eli Reece slides in safely at the plate against Westminster in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs April 29, 2022 in Gainesville. - photo by Bill Murphy

North Hall’s baseball program has a way of making the exceptional look routine. 

Having a veteran roster for the defending state champions that rarely makes mistakes bodes well for the Trojans (28-4) now that the postseason is in full swing. 

And timely hitting, North Hall did a lot of that too as it swept Westminster in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs Friday at Lynn Cottrell Stadium. 

Seniors Jaret Bales and Hunter Brooks were both solid on the mound starting as the Trojans swept a doubleheader in the best-of-three series with 11-2 and 11-1 wins. 

In the nightcap, Brooks bashed a three-run homer in the fifth inning, right after Luke Erickson’s two-run hit. 

With a big lead, North Hall was able to go to seniors Baker Dyer, in Game 1, and Landon Davis, in the second game, to get some work out of the bullpen. Both were efficient and didn’t allow any runs. 

The Trojans also found a weakness with Westminster and posted 12 stolen bases in the doubleheader (six in each game). 

“We played a good team tonight that we made look average because of the way they came ready to play,” North Hall coach Trevor Flow said. 

After it was finished, Flow made sure his players took a moment to reflect on the atmosphere and buzz around the Trojans’ program, with hundreds of fans on hand to watch a first-round playoff series. 

The Trojans have the advantage of homefield advantage after going 21-0 in region play this season to earn the 7-3A championship. 

“They’re a special group,” Flow said. “The way they approach the game and really their personalities outside of baseball make them who they are.”

Now, North Hall is one step closer to claiming its third-ever state championship in baseball. 

In Game 1, first baseman Eli Reece had a single to start the scoring in the second inning. 

Ajay Jones had a sacrifice fly in the same inning, and Brooks was hit by a pitch to bring home a run. 

The Trojans put it away in the fourth inning, starting with Hunter Brooks’ leadoff double. 

Then Reece got on with a walk, after going down 0-2 to start his at-bat. 

North Hall made Westminster pay. 

Tate Brooks and Bales followed with two-run hits, then left fielder Bradford Puryear drove in a run with a single. 

In Game 2, the Trojans continued the aggressive approach at the plate with six runs in the second inning. 

Erickson had an infield single that drove in a run, then Hudson Barrett drove a run across when a bunt attempt was fielded by the Wildcats pitcher, but the throw home was past the catcher. 

Bales added an RBI single too before the inning ended. 

In the fourth inning, Tate Brooks had a two-out triple. 

Then in the fifth inning, North Hall pushed five runs across the plate before the first out was recorded. 

With the wins, North Hall will host Appling County (17-7) in the second round and another best-of-three series, starting with a doubleheader Wednesday at Lynn Cottrell Stadium. 

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