FLOWERY BRANCH — Flowery Branch freshman Imani Cross isn’t expected to win baseball games with his role as a courtesy runner, but that’s exactly what he did in the seventh inning against North Hall on Friday night at the Hog Mountain Sports Complex.
Cross came around to score from second on Cory Sanderson’s single through the hole, sliding in just before the catcher’s tag to secure a 5-4 win.
"Imani is such a coachable kid, he got a good jump on the hit and had a good slide," Flowery Branch coach Jimmy Lawler said.
Flowery Branch’s (11-3, 10-3 Region 7-AAA) primary courtesy runner came in the game when senior catcher Bucky Free walked, after James Wilson was already on base with a one-out single. Jordan Wilson followed with an infield single scoring James Wilson, immediately before the game-winning single.
The win was important for Flowery Branch after dropping the first meeting this season against North Hall. Another head-to-head loss by the Falcons would have given any possible playoff tie-breaker to the Trojans (8-8, 8-6) for future playoff seeding.
"That was an excellent high school baseball game tonight, they just managed to pull it out," North Hall coach Trent Mongero said. "We’ll do our best to pull the positives from our effort."
Still, Lawler thinks it’s way too early to start talking about playoff scenarios and seedings for the postseason. He’s more concerned with today’s game against Lumpkin County in Dahlonega, and his team’s remaining games against Creekview and West Forsyth.
"We still have a lot of good teams left to play," Lawler said.
However, Flowery Branch’s coach was pleased with the fact his team didn’t come out sluggish after rainouts on Wednesday and Thursday.
Senior Matt Pilgrim pitched seven innings for the Falcons with three strikeouts and allowed only one earned run. He managed to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the third inning, with only one out, when a North Hall batter hit a lazy fly ball down the right field line and the lead runner was tagged out at the plate for the inning’s final out.
Sanderson (2-for-4) had a single for the Falcons in the fourth inning and scored on a throwing error. Brad Stone also scored for Flowery Branch in the first on an infield error.
Jackson Coker had a double for the Trojans in the fifth that scored a pair of runs, giving North Hall a 4-2 advantage. K.J. McAllister reached base in all four plate appearances for the Trojans and scored one of their fourth-inning runs. Davis Partrick, Trey Pinson and Chris Stevens each added one hit for the Trojans.
North Hall plays host to Gilmer at 7 p.m. next Friday at Jody Davis Field.