Preston Graham did everything right for North Hall on Wednesday at Jody Davis Field.
The Trojans’ left-handed starter struck out a career-high 13 — two more than his previous best from 2012 — and allowed just two hits in a 12-1 win against Dawson County in Gainesville.
On top of that, he laced a two-out fastball over the left-field fence for a three-run home run in the first inning, the first home run of his high school career. In his final at bat, he ripped a two-out double to the left-field gap for the Trojans (9-1, 5-0 Region 7-AAA).
“God is awesome to allow me to have a game like that,” Graham said. “He gets all the glory.”
Graham only faced 17 Dawson County hitters in the five inning game, striking out the final five batters. He said one of the keys for most of the night was going back and forth on his first pitch between the curveball and fastball to get ahead in the count.
“Preston played a complete game all the way around,” North Hall coach Trent Mongero said. “He was extremely efficient on the mound.”
With the win, the Trojans have outscored region opponents 66-2, just two weeks into the stretch of the season that matters most.
Graham could relax and focus on throwing strikes after North Hall plated eight runs in the first inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Lincoln Hewett, Drew Coker, Stephen Murray and McCoy Savage each followed in order and did their part to bring a run across the plate.
Hewett had an RBI single, Coker was hit by a pitch to score another run and kept the bases full and Murray reached on an infield error to score another run.
After Graham’s three-run homer, leadoff hitter Andrew Smith put a bunt single down the third base line. Zach Mize brought home the final run of the inning with a two-strike RBI single.
“It feels great to know that Nos. 1-9 in our batting order are all going to have good at bats,” Graham said. “Everyone is getting on base.”
North Hall scored four more in the third inning. With Savage on first base after a leadoff single, Smith stroked an RBI triple to the right-field gap and scored after the relay throw by Dawson County’s infielder went into its dugout.
Also in the third inning, Colton Duttweiler guided an RBI double and Hewett had another RBI single.
Mize reached base in all three plate appearances for the Trojans.
Dawson County’s only two hits came back-to-back in the second inning with a two-out double from Colton Chester followed by an RBI single from Brodie Chester, scoring courtesy runner Kobe Rogers.
The two teams play again at 5:55 p.m. on Friday in Dawsonville.