It didn’t take long for the Flowery Branch baseball team to get back to mid-season form.
The Falcons (1-0) used five hits, including three home runs, to plate eight in the first two innings en route to a 13-6 win over North Hall on Wednesday at the Hog Mountain Sports Complex in Flowery Branch.
“Not so bad,” Flowery Branch coach Scott Myers said after the game.
Not bad at all.
Brody Thomas got things started for the Falcons right away in the bottom half of the first inning by knocking a first-pitch double down the left-field line.
After advancing to third on a passed ball, Thomas was able to cross the plate on a misplayed pick-off attempt by North Hall pitcher Wade Phillips.
Three batters later, with a man on, Breck Davidson opened up the scoring with a home run to deep left-center.
Left fielder C.J. Navin added a three-run homer in the second inning for Flowery Branch, and starting pitcher Chase Hulsey added a solo shot.
After the damage was done, North Hall changed pitchers and Flowery Branch enjoyed an eight-run advantage.
“We had some tree killers there,” Myers said of the early home runs. “I could talk for hours about what we can improve on, but I can tell you I didn’t expect three bombs.”
Navin, who finished 1 for 2 with a home run, four RBIs and two runs scored, said he was happy to get his season started on a such a strong note.
“It felt great,” he said. “The pitcher put up a good pitch, and I just did what I could with it. But I was just happy to be back out on the field.”
But the game wasn’t without its tense moments for the Falcons.
Their eight-run lead slowly dwindled to a 9-5 advantage after the Trojans’ (1-1) half of the fifth inning.
Hulsey, who kept the Trojans hitless in the first two innings, ran into trouble in the third. He walked McCoy Savage to start the inning, the third consecutive inning in which he walked the lead-off batter.
He wasn’t able to avoid any damage this time. Hulsey was charged with a two-base error on a pick-off attempt that skipped past first baseman Davidson. A single by Zach Mize drove that run in, and knocked Hulsey from the game.
The new pitcher, Andrew Weekley, allowed a single to Jesse Strickland, then walked three of the next five batters. In all, three runs scored in the inning.
The Trojans used three errors in the fourth inning to add another run, and plated their fifth in the fifth inning.
Myers said that he thought the walks by his pitchers may have led to his defense being flat-footed in the field.
“As an infielder, you want your guys on the mound to make the batters swing the bat,” he said. “We got a little flat-footed when some of the batters started walking, I think, and that left us unprepared for the plays.”
Navin echoed his coach’s words.
“We’ve got to work a little on (defense),” he said. “We’ve got to keep up the intensity. That kind of thing will come around, though. I thought our pitchers did a good job getting us out of trouble.”
Weekley, who pitched two innings in relief of Hulsey, picked up the win, allowing two runs, one earned, on two hits.
Davidson finished 1 for 2 with a home run and two RBIs, and Hulsey was 1 for 1 with a home run and three runs scored. Hulsey reached base in each of his three at-bats.
Phillips picked up the loss for North Hall, which was led at the plate by Strickland, who went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored.
Colton Duttweiler pitched 4 innings in relief of Phillips, allowing three runs, two earned, on four hits and striking out four.
Flowery Branch visits North Oconee at 5:55 p.m. on Friday, while North Hall plays at Habersham Central at 5:30 p.m. Friday in Mount Airy.