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Tightly-connected North Hall senior class gearing up for its third trip to the baseball state semifinals
North Hall's Jaret Bales is The Times Baseball Player of the Year. - photo by Bill Murphy

North Hall senior right-hander Jaret Bales speaks like a true leader. 

Embarking on its third trip to the baseball state semifinals in his fourth year career, he’s excited about the prospect of leaving the school as a back-to-back state champion with the Trojans (32-5). 

However, it was practice as usual for senior-heavy North Hall on Thursday, as it gears up for a best-of-three Class 3A state semifinals series against Pike County (32-5), starting with a doubleheader Monday in Zebulon — which is about 45 minutes south of Atlanta. 

“I expect big things from our group,” said Bales, who is already signed to played at the University of North Georgia, starting in the fall. “If we put these final puzzle pieces together, we’ll have a masterpiece.”

A masterpiece, indeed. 

Just look at the background of this Trojans senior class. 

They’ve made the state semifinals all three chances during their high school career (there was no postseason in 2020), starting with a memorable series against Appling County deep in the 2019 postseason. 

North Hall is 65-11 over the past two seasons. 

And it’s shattered school records along the way and needs just two more wins to own the school record for most victories in a single season. 

The Trojans need exactly four more victories to go out on top again. 

Trojans coach Trevor Flow said the 2022 success should be magnified by how difficult it is to repeat success when you have a ‘target on your back.’

“The fact that this group has played so well is a tribute to these kids,” Flow said. “They knew to repeat their success, they’d have to be even better than last season.”

At every position, North Hall has a wealth of experience. 

On the mound, Bales is the go-to guy, while Hunter Brooks has been lights out in the clutch as North Hall’s No. 2 starter. 

Senior Eli Reece has been pivotal at first base this season, after splitting his time as a starting pitcher in 2021. 

The middle infield has been nothing short of spectacular for the Trojans, with Luke Erickson at second base and Jace Bowen at shortstop. 

One of North Hall’s team records this season is its 155 total stolen bases, 20 more than the previous best, led by sophomore speedster and starting center fielder Ajay Jones.

However, the glue to this unit has been Bales. He’s been stellar all season, and gotten even better in the postseason. 

His 16 strikeouts in the loss to Appling County in the second-round series was just one shy of the school record (Preston Graham in 2013). 

And Bales has been just as good at the plate. 

He had back-to-back homers in the first game of the quarterfinal series against Harlem. 

In the regular season, he hit .375 with 31 RBIs. 

At every other spot on the field is also a senior for the Trojans. 

Behind the plate, Tate Brooks has been reliable since stepping into the starting role as a freshman. 

At third base, Hudson Barrett has been dependable. 

In left field, Bradford Puryear hasn’t missed a beat, after making some remarkable plays in the 2021 state finals, along with Cooper Helton in right field. 

North Hall’s starting pitching has been so strong that it hasn’t required much out of the bullpen, but if it does, senior left-hander Baker Dyer and right-hander Landon Davis are ready, when needed.

Weaved together, Bales said that North Hall’s baseball program has a unique feel and bond that can’t be broken. 

“This group of boys, it’s just a different environment,” Bales said. “I’m going to take advantage of every second we have left playing together.”

"This group of guys means the world to me," Tate Brooks said. "We've played together for so long and bonded together on and off the field."

North Hall’s coach knows that its semifinal matchup will be challenging, to say the least. 

However, he feels like they’re up for another battle. 

“We’re going to have to play really well against Pike County to win,” Flow said. “They have the same record as us, a very good team. 

“But that’s the way it’s supposed to be when you get to the Final Four.”

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