A solo home run in the top of the seventh inning sparked a rally for North Oconee High, leading to a 10-inning, 4-3 win over North Hall High as the two teams are jockeying for the second seed in Region 8-AAAA.
With the last week of the schedule providing some meaning, Trojans (17-8, 11-4) coach Trent Mongero said his team would still lock up the No. 2 spot with a win Wednesday in the final game of the season against the same North Oconee (15-8, 12-3) squad.
“This is playoff baseball,” Mongero said. “We’re in the playoffs. We know we’ve got to win one game on Wednesday. It’s like they won Game 1 of the series and we need to go win Game 2. That’s how it is in the playoffs all the time.”
Through the first six innings, North Hall held a 3-0 lead. In that span, the Titans had just three hits. Then, in the final inning of regulation, the Titans had four hits.
Evan Meade, who hit a lead-off double in the fifth inning, led off the seventh for North Oconee with a solo home run over the left-field fence on a 1-1 pitch.
“Credit to Evan. It was an awesome at-bat,” said Trojans shortstop Taber Mongero. “That definitely got them on a roll and got them believing they could win the game. I think that pushed them to a ‘W’ over us tonight.”
Trojans starting pitcher Reese Olson, who was bidding for a complete game, then gave up a single before getting a strike out for the first out of the frame.
The next batter took the first pitch he saw to the left side for a single, signaling an end of the night for Olson.
The sophomore tossed 6 1/3 innings, allowing six hits, three runs with one walk. He struck out three.
Coming in to try and close things down, senior Drew Atha, who picked up the save Friday at Turner Field, gave up a two-run double to Jacob Odom. Odom also delivered a lead-off double in the sixth.
The Trojans came up in the bottom of the frame with a chance to win the contest.
North Hall got runners on second and third, but were unable to bring the winning run across the plate.
After back-to-back innings of three up, three down offense, the Titans looked to repeat the process in the top of the 10th.
Then, a two-out walk was followed by a triple to right field, scoring the run and, ultimately, winning the game.
“I thought it was an unbelievable high school baseball game,” coach Mongero said. “Both teams played their hearts out. That’s what happens when two good teams get together sometimes.
“We put ourselves in a situation to win,” he continued. “That’s all I can ask.”
Now, with a chance to host the first round of the state playoffs on the line, the Trojans will head to Bogart.
“We know it was a hard-fought game,” Taber Mongero said. “If we go down there and win Wednesday, which we know we can do and have a lot of confidence we can do, we’re pretty sure we’re still the second seed. We know what we can do. If we do that and execute, we’re good to go. We’re not pressing the panic button or anything yet.”
Coach Mongero said the Trojans are in no way settling for third place.
On Wednesday, North Hall will send Corban Meeler to the mound to try to get that second spot.
“We have Meeler going on Wednesday,” coach Mongero said. “He’s been tough all year. It’s no secret, the best players have their biggest moments in the biggest games. We need him to pitch well on Wednesday.”