DAWSONVILLE — A complete game from Kyle Reynolds and a seven-run fifth inning were the perfect ingredients for a 15-5 West Hall win against region foe Dawson County on Tuesday in Dawsonville.
The win was the first in a three-game series, the rest of which will be played Friday night in Oakwood in a doubleheader.
The game was tied 5-5 heading into the fourth inning, then the Spartans (11-7, 5-5 Region 7-AAA), who never trailed in the game, decided to open things up once again.
In the top of the frame, eight of the nine batters in the lineup for West Hall went to the plate.
With two outs on the board, a dropped strike three allowed designated hitter Carter Lott to reach safely at first base.
From there, Merrit Gazaway and Trey Horton delivered back-to-back singles with Horton’s plating Lott for a 6-5 lead.
Two pitches later, Cole Wilson delivered a double to score Gazaway and Horton for an 8-5 lead.
With a three-run lead in hand, Reynolds seemed to get better.
In the bottom of the fourth, he started the frame with a one-pitch groundout. Then, he was able to get back-to-back strikeouts. The senior escaped the inning adding only 10 pitches to his count.
His offense gave him a huge boost in the top of the fifth inning as the Spartans plated seven runs against the Tigers (12-6, 6-4).
West Hall sent 13 batters to the plate in the inning.
Spartans catcher Josh Anderson led things off with a single, which was followed by a single from Brian Newman. The two singles knocked Dawson County starter Noah Davis off the mound.
Jeffrey Jenkins was the first batter to face Reed McAllister and he knocked a double into left field, scoring courtesy runner Austin Henderson and Newman.
Then, Lott reached on an error before a pop fly to the first baseman recorded the first out of the inning. Next up, Horton drove in his third run of the night as he bounced a double off the right-field wall to score Jenkins and Lott.
An error left Cole Wilson safe at first and a single from Erik Ayala moved him over to second and Horton to third.
Tanner Ahmad drove in Horton and Wilson with a single past the shortstop as the infield was playing in trying to prevent another run from scoring.
Newman, in his second at-bat of the inning, delivered another single in the frame to score Ayala and put the run rule into effect.
Reynolds went back to work on the mound and had his best inning of the game to close out the contest.
With just eight pitches, he induced two groundouts to Ayala at second base and one to Ahmad at shortstop.
The senior pitcher tossed 85 pitches in his five innings of work, giving up five runs on six hits and one walk. Reynolds faced 23 batters and struckout five.
“At the beginning, he wasn’t locating too well,” said West Hall coach Chad Sage. “He missed big time on some 0-2 pitches, but we had pull Kyle out of the game (March 29) against Fannin because he was having some shoulder issues. He went to the doctor and rested this week. It was good to see him bounce back and come out strong and finish the game.”
Newman finished the game with the best line at the plate, posting a 3-for-4 night with three RBIs and a run scored.
Horton also delivered three RBIs, with all of them totaling in the fourth and fifth innings. The right fielder was 2 for 4 with two runs scored.
Anderson and Ahmad were both 2 for 4 as well for the Spartans. Anderson drove in one run and Henderson scored three as Anderson’s courtesy runner. Ahmad drove in two and scored two.
Jenkins and Wilson each had two RBIs to total 13 for the Spartans.
West Hall has had issues earlier in the season with being able to push runs across. That wasn’t a problem against Dawson Tuesday. Sage hopes the team can continue that going forward.
“Taking it to the next game,” Sage said. “We always have a breakout game here or there hitting-wise, but we can never take it to the next game. That’s going to be a key, staying constant.”
Overall, West Hall out-hit the Tigers 13-6. The Spartans escaped the game without an error on the board. Dawson County committed six errors.
The Spartans took a 2-0 lead in the first inning as Davis walked the first three batters and then a pair of Tigers errors allowed two West Hall runs to score.
In the top of the second, Ayala, Ahmad and Henderson scored to give West Hall a 5-0 lead.
Dawson County scored three in the bottom of the second, with Connor Bearden, Austin Young and McAllister all scoring.
In the bottom of the third, Young hit a two-run shot to tie the game, scoring Brody Chester in the process.
“After that home run, our guys really buckled down and played well,” Sage said. “They didn’t let the pressure get to them. Dawson’s an extremely good hitting team. You get up three runs, especially here — a lot of balls fly out easy here — a three-run lead or four-run lead is not very big here.”
Young had the best night at the plate for the Tigers, going 2 for 2, driving in a pair and scoring two.
Chester, Bearden, McAllister and Jake Gloeckner had the other hits for Dawson County.
The two teams will meet again Friday with a 5 p.m. start to the first game of the doubleheader at West Hall.