Winning baseball doesn’t have to be flashy. Timely hitting, solid defense and pitching in the strike zone consistently seems to be working just fine for East Hall.
After a first-inning blemish Monday, Vikings left-hander Eli Stuart managed to work his way around any further damage against Dawson County in Gainesville.
Even though the Tigers got on the board first with back to back doubles to open the first inning, Stuart was the beneficiary of a strong night in the field by the Vikings and 6-1 win. East Hall (7-8, 5-4 Region 7-AAA) has now strung together five consecutive wins and is right in the thick of the chase for its first postseason berth since 2003.
“Our pitching’s been awesome,” said East Hall coach Wes Crow. “They’ve given us a chance to win every time out.”
Part of the winning streak for East Hall includes last Friday’s no-hit performance by Jack Hagwood in a 4-0 win against
Fannin County. Even though Stuart allowed 10 hits against Dawson County (4-11, 2-6), he was calm under pressure for the Vikings by getting out of the fifth and sixth inning with a pair of Tigers runners on base. He left the game when Dawson County loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh inning.
Jonah Crocker took the mound for the Vikings with a five-run lead and got the last out on a well-hit fly ball hit directly to Hagwood, who made all three puts outs in the final inning on line-drive fly balls to right field.
“I feel like we’re all playing good fundamental baseball as a group,” said East Hall first baseman Hunter Strange.
Strange turned a heads-up double play in the field for East Hall in the third inning with a runner in scoring position. On a ground ball, he made the put out with a catch at first, then snapped a throw across the diamond to third base to catch Dawson County’s lead runner off the bag.
Kolton Brumbelow started the third for Dawson County with a single to third base that he beat by a step after Ronnie Peebles’ strong throw from the cut of the outfield to Strange at first base.
In addition to closing out the game on the hill, Crocker also hit a two-run homer that looped just over the left field fence.
His first hit of the game was a first-inning double into the right field gap, and scored when Strange reached on an infield error by the Tigers.
East Hall tacked on another pair of runs in the fourth inning with some aggressive base running. Jeremy Walls and Hagwood got on with hits, stole a base and each came around to score. The Vikings finished the fourth inning with four stolen bases, including a double steal with two outs.
Dawson County jumped out to the 1-0 lead in the first inning. Starting pitcher Levi Whitmire had a double on the game’s first pitch, then scored on Brody Chester’s double.
Stuart finished with four strikeouts on the mound and allowed two walks.
On Wednesday, East Hall visits Lumpkin County in Dahlonega. Dawson County visits region-leading Franklin County in Carnesville.