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North Hall, LaGrange split doubleheader
Game 3 today at 2 p.m.
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It all comes down to Game 3.

LaGrange and North Hall split the first two games of their Class AAA state-playoff series on Friday at Granger Park, setting up today’s winner-take-all game at 2 p.m.

North Hall won the first game Friday, riding the arm of Chris Stevens to a 10-0 victory, but LaGrange rallied to win the second game 8-3 with Jacob Boccucci getting the complete-game victory.

As for today’s game, LaGrange coach Donnie Branch said it’ll be all hands on deck.

“We’ve got a bunch of arms, and we’ll throw ‘em,” Branch said. “Every arm will be available.”

If past history is an indicator, Branch said it could end up being a slugfest.

“We always say that games threes are hitting games,”Branch said. “We won a state championship 13-10 in Game 3 (against Cartersville in 2004).”

The Grangers forced a Game 3 by quickly putting a miserable effort in the opener behind them.

As Branch put it, “I thought we were horrible in the first game. And they were good.”

In Game 2, the Grangers turned it around thanks in large part to the effort of Boccucci, who won his second straight huge game.

In the regular-season finale, Boccucci pitched the Grangers to a complete-game win over Troup that secured Region 6-AAA’s second spot.

The Grangers scored their first run of the series in the top of the second on a Clancy Alford sacrifice fly.

It remained a 1-0 game until Mason Savage came through with an RBI single in the fourth to tie it.

The Grangers answered in the fifth with a four-run outburst.

With two runners on and two outs, Caleb Williams delivered the biggest hit of the day for LaGrange, a double down the right-field line that brought in Malcolm Dowell and Zak Murphy.

“That changed the game,” Boccucci said of Williams’ hit.

Added Branch: “That was hit of the two games right there. That got everybody excited.”

Jake Norton followed with an RBI double of his own into the left-field gap, and Boccucci helped himself with a run-scoring single, and the Grangers were up 5-1.

The Trojans tried to answer in the bottom of the fifth, with Bowen knocking in a run with a double, but Boccucci got a strikeout with two runners on to end that threat.

The Grangers scored three more runs in the sixth, with Dowell providing the big blow with an RBI single.

Two other runs scored on wild pitches in the inning.

LaGrange capped the scoring in the seventh, with Dowell coming through with another RBI single.

The Trojans got two runners on in their half of the seventh, but Boccucci got the next three batters to end it.

In Game 1, nothing went right for the home team.

The Grangers managed just three hits against Stevens, who was brilliant.

LaGrange’s four pitchers, meanwhile, surrendered just six hits, but they gave up 10 walks and hit two batters.
North Hall got all the offense it needed in the top of the first inning.

With one out,Whit Bowen and Jesse Strickland came through with back-to-back solo home runs, and the Trojans were up 2-0.
North Hall added three more runs in the fourth inning, with Griffin Olson and Preston Graham delivering RBI singles and Strickland adding a sacrifice fly.

In the sixth, Strickland and Stevens had back-to-back walks with the bases loaded to highlight a two-run inning, and Andrew Smith had an RBI single during a three-run seventh.

Smith had two hits for the Trojans, and he was on base four times.

Olson also had a pair of hits, and Mason Savage had a hit and scored a run.

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