Both North Hall and Cherokee Bluff struggled offensively for most of the night in Monday’s contest between the teams, but the Trojans broke away with a three-run fifth inning that eventually led to them taking home a 4-0 victory.
Jaret Bales started for North Hall (15-4, 9-1 Region 7-3A), and pitched a complete game shutout, striking out eight. Clay Tyas started on the mound for the Bears (15-6, 7-3), giving up just one run in four innings.
“I thought we played a pretty complete game,” North Hall coach Trevor Flow said. “I’m really proud of Jaret. … The defense played out of their minds. We talk about the facets of the game you have to win, and I thought they won all of them tonight.”
The matchup was the first of a three-game, Region 7-3A series between the pair of top 10 teams, with Game 2 coming up on Wednesday evening.
Flow said he's posed the series as a challenge to his team to see where they stack up among the top programs in Class 3A.
“It’s kind of a measuring stick,” he said. “And that says a lot about the region you play in when two of the top teams in the state are in your region.”
The Trojans went up early when Jace Bowen batted in Tate Brooks in the first inning with a single.
All scoring stalled for a while from there, as Tyas narrowly held off North Hall base runners for a four-inning scoreless stretch. The Trojans got runners on second and third base in both the second and fourth innings of the game, but each time Tyas strikeouts kept the deficit at just one run.
It wasn’t until the fifth inning, after Braxton Beal relieved Tyas, that North Hall started to break through.
Brooks and Jay Johnson came home on wild pitches in the frame, and Bales batted in Bowen for an RBI that put the Trojans on top by 4.
Cherokee Bluff got a couple runners on base in the sixth, but North Hall’s lead was never really threatened in the region win. The teams will battle again at North Hall High School on Wednesday at 5:55 p.m.