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North Hall baseball team sweeps East Hall in Region 7-AAA doubleheader
After shaky Game 1, Trojans' offense erupts in nightcap
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North Hall's Dylan Lavendar (9) makes contact with the ball during Tuesday's double header between North Hall and East Hall in a Region 7-AAA matchup at North Hall High School. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Despite the North Hall baseball team’s 7-3 win against East Hall in Game 1 of Tuesday night’s doubleheader, coach Trent Mongero wasn’t all that pleased with his team’s performance.

After discussing their shortcomings in the 30 minutes between games, the Trojans responded in a big way.

North Hall exploded for eight runs in the third inning of Game 2 to claim a 10-0, run-rule victory in five innings against its Region 7-AAA rival at Jody Davis Field. In claiming the series, the Trojans (18-4, 11-0 region) extended their winning streak to six games and maintained their hold on first place in the region standings with only seven contests to go.

But more importantly, North Hall showed it could rebound from a rocky start.

“Not to take anything away from East Hall, but I didn’t feel like we played well at all in any facet in Game 1,” Mongero said. “ … The positive is we still found a way to win. I felt like we responded a little bit from that experience going into Game 2.”

The coach said it’s common for players to struggle with preparation and energy when their schedules are significantly altered during spring break, which is in effect this week for Hall County schools.

Reese Olson, who went 3 for 6 with four RBIs on the night and threw four scoreless innings in Game 2, said his coach’s plea between games helped the team get back in gear.

“He just told us we had to get the energy up, and we did that,” Olson said. “Following orders.”

The Trojans still began the night on the right foot, plating two runs in the first inning of Game 1. Taber Mongero scored on Jackson Latty’s fielder’s choice before Austin Adams went all the way from second base to home on a throwing error.

The Vikings (8-12, 2-9) got a run back in the following inning when Luke Holtzclaw (2 for 4) drew a leadoff walk and advanced all the way to third base on wild pitches, setting up Tripp Rider’s RBI-single up the middle.

Olson extended North Hall’s lead to 4-1 in the third inning with a two-RBI single through the right side. He drove in Adams and Latty, who both reached on walks before a wild pitch put them in scoring position.

Still clutching a three-run advantage in the fifth inning, North Hall received two-out production from the bottom third of its order.

Drew Hubbard bunted for a hit, Caleb Clark (2 for 3 in Game 1) singled and Dylan Lavender walked to load the bases for Taber Mongero, whose long fly ball that could have been the inning-ending out glanced off an East Hall player’s glove to plate all three runners.

“You’ve got to take advantage of every opportunity, and we were able to take advantage of that mistake,” Trent Mongero said. “You never know how games are going to go. Sometimes you feel like you’re in control, and then another team will come back.”

That’s just what the Vikings did.

East Hall capitalized on a two-run throwing error by the Trojans in the top of the seventh inning that allowed Rider (2 for 4) and Will Buffington to score after they recorded a base hit and a walk, respectively.

The teams went back to their dugouts for half an hour between games, and North Hall returned to the field on a mission.

After Latty’s standup double scored Adams in the first inning of Game 2, the Trojans blew the game open with an eight-run third. Three leadoff walks loaded the bases for Olson, who doubled to drive in two more runners and set the stage for the big inning.

“Walking three in a row helps, and then I just got a pitch I could hit,” Olson said. “I was trying to go up the middle to score some runs. I was able to get a pitch up.”

North Hall later ripped off three straight singles in a frame that featured two sac flies and 12 at-bats.

It was more than enough run support for Olson, who quickly retired the first 12 batters he faced while striking out seven. After Holtzclaw broke up his perfect game to lead off the fifth inning, Olson exited with a blister as Taber Mongero entered to finish the job.

“I was throwing strikes and hitting my spots where coach had the catcher set up,” Olson said. “I just worked off my fastball the whole time, and my curveball started working better around the third inning.”

John Mark Montgomery hit the walk-off single for the Trojans that enforced the mercy rule in the bottom of the frame.

North Hall can sweep the series when East Hall hosts Game 3 at 5:55 p.m. Friday.

But unlike Tuesday, the Trojans won’t have two games to get settled in.

“We’ve got to learn from this one and be ready on Friday,” Trent Mongero said. “If we’re not ready to play, East Hall is a quality ballclub that is capable of beating us.”

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