FLOWERY BRANCH - After starting the year as the last hitter in Flowery Branch's lineup, junior Brody Thomas was moved to the top of the order once he started to prove himself.
He probably won't be going back down to the No. 9 hole anytime soon.
Fresh off Monday's game when he went 3-for-3 with four stolen bases, Thomas reeled off three more hits and scored three runs to pace the Falcons to an 11-3 win against Habersham Central on Wednesday at the Hog Mountain Sports Complex.
"He's been swinging the bat like crazy; he's been unconscious," Flowery Branch coach Scott Myers said. "The pitches must look like beach balls to him."
Thomas, who admitted he's seeing the ball well, said his recent success is a product of 6 a.m. football workouts.
"It helps with my overall strength," said Thomas, who finished a home run shy of the cycle.
The lead-off hitter made his presence known early against the Raiders with an infield single that started a four-run first inning for the Falcons (6-1, 3-0 Region 8-AAAA). Thomas scored on an RBI single from Logan Conley, which was followed by a run-scoring single from Kyle Famiano that gave Flowery Branch a 2-1 lead. Wednesday's starting pitcher Andrew Laur hit a two-run single two batters later to give the Falcons a 4-1 lead.
"Those four runs were absolutely enormous," said Myers, whose team trailed 1-0 after an RBI single from Habersham Central's Taylor Stinespring in the first. "We worked hard all week on our focus, and we didn't want to come out and overlook them."
If Myers thought the four runs in the first were enormous, then he must have been really impressed with his team's third inning, which was started by a Chase Hulsey stand-up triple, the team's second of the night -
Thomas had one in the second inning that led to a run. Famiano's sacrifice fly scored Hulsey, and after Breck Davidson was hit by a pitch and Laur singled, Thomas came through with a two-run double to give Flowery Branch a commanding 9-3 lead. Jesse Brookshire capped the five-run third inning with a solo home run to left field.
"The first couple of innings, we hit the ball hard," Myers said. "I would have loved for us to keep swinging like we did."
The Falcons didn't need to because of the pitching of Laur, who held the Raiders (5-5, 0-3) to only an infield single following the third inning.
Wednesday's win is the fourth straight for the Falcons, who visit region title favorite Loganville (8-2, 3-0) at 5:55 p.m. Friday.
"That's going to give us a measuring stick as far as the region goes," Myers said.
Thomas said Wednesday's victory will play a small role in Friday's contest.
"This win builds momentum, but they're a whole different team and its a whole different game," he said.
Habersham Central, which has lost three straight, hosts Salem at 5:55 p.m. Friday.