Preston Graham may have set a great tone for North Hall’s baseball program with a timely late hit and 2-1 win against Flowery Branch on Thursday at Jody Davis Field. With the game tied and one out away from facing extra innings, Graham laced a walk-off single to the left-field wall that scored pinch hitter Corbin Lewallen from second base.
After a slow night hitting the ball early, the Trojans (3-1) manufactured a run in each of the final two innings to earn the victory.
“I thought we had some good quality at bats with our backs against the wall tonight,” North Hall coach Trent Mongero said.
After Griffin Olson connected on a two-out RBI single for the Trojans in the sixth inning with two strikes in the count, North Hall started its rally in the seventh inning with two outs. In the seventh, Lewallen got on base with a two-out walk, followed by McCoy Savage’s single through the right side of the infield to put two runners on for Graham.
Graham went four pitches deep in the count before drilling a hit to the left-field warning track that didn’t draw a throw home.
“Coach stresses for us to stay patient and stay short at the plate,” Graham said.
After not managing a hit until the fourth inning — a two-out single from Olson — North Hall managed back-to-back hits in the sixth that brought home its first run of the night. With two outs in the inning, Trojans senior Zach Mize drove a double deep to the outfield, just over the glove of the Falcons’ center fielder.
Colton Duttweiler picked up the win for the Trojans, pitching all seven innings and allowing just five hits. Each of the first three innings, Flowery Branch got a runner on first base, but the left-handed Duttweiler initiated a pickoff each time with a throw back to first base.
Duttweiler also started a pickoff in the fifth inning, even though the Falcons (4-2) brought a run across on a Cam Davis single later in the inning. Duttweiler finished the game with four strikeouts on the mound.
“I thought Colton pitched his rear end off for us tonight,” Mongero added.
The Trojans avoided any damage earlier in the game with a nice defensive play in the fourth inning. With Jonathan Hughes already at first for the Falcons, Keltin DeVoe hit a sharp grounder to third base that kicked off the glove of third baseman Drew Coker into the air and snagged by short stop Andrew Smith for a quick throw to first base for the out.
Hughes was thrown out to end the inning after trying to advance to third base on a ball in the dirt.
Brad Keller pitched well all night for the Falcons, retiring the first eight hitters he faced in order and not allowing a hit until Olson’s two-out single in the fourth inning. He struck out eight batters.
North Hall visits Class AAAAAA North Forsyth at 6:30 tonight in Coal Mountain; Flowery Branch faces West Forsyth at 5:55 tonight at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega.