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Prep baseball: Eight-run fourth leads to Falcons win
West Hall High’s Brian Ernst gets a pitch from Flowery Branch pitcher Patrick Henry during the fourth inning of their game at Flowery Branch on Friday night. - photo by Robin Michener Nathan

FLOWERY BRANCH — Flowery Branch coach Jimmy Lawler saw immediate results from changes to his lineup on Friday night.

As a response, in large part, to the team’s first loss of the season Thursday night, the Falcons (8-1, 4-1 Region 7-AAA) coach made four changes to his batting order that resulted in a 15-3 win against West Hall on Friday night at the Hog Mountain Sports Complex.

Lawler’s adjustment in the Falcons lineup resulted in nine different batters reaching base against the Spartans (2-7, 1-4), and multiple hit performances from lead off hitter Brad Stone, Patrick Henry, Chad Rackley and Cody Ackerman.

"I decided to shake up the lineup because we have a lot of competition of the team and I believe we go about two deep all the way around," Lawler said. "It was really important for us to re-group tonight, and I feel like we responded well.

"Right now, Cody Ackerman is hitting about .500 for us right now in the No. 9 spot and getting on base, and Brad Stone is doing well in the lead off spot."

Henry led the Falcons in the win with a 4-for-4 night at the plate, including a pair of home runs, three RBIs and three runs scored. Flowery Branch’s right handed ace pitcher finished the night only a triple short of hitting for the cycle.

"Those two home runs really jumped out of here," Lawler said.

Ackerman finished with two hits and a pair of RBIs. Stone also added two hits and drove in a run.

Flowery Branch broke the game wide open with eight runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, which included both of Henry’s home runs. Jordan Miller added an RBI single during the inning to score Greg Palmer.

"Off of the loss to White County we knew we really wanted to make a statement," Stone said. "I thought we played well as a team tonight."

Henry earned the win for the Falcons throwing a five-inning complete game. He allowed his first earned runs of the season, but still managed to record eight strikeouts and didn’t allow any walks. He set down the first six West Hall hitters in order, thanks, in part, to a nice defensive play off of the mound to cover first base on a ground ball for the final out in the second inning.

Henry only allowed five hits on the night.

"We know anytime we have Patrick on the mound we have a chance to win," Lawler added.

Scott Eichler led the Spartans at the plate with a two-run single in the fourth inning that scored Brian Ernst and Josh Preston. Ernst and Matt Boone each had a double for West Hall.

Luis Delgado and Preston each had a single for the Spartans.

The road doesn’t get any easier for Flowery Branch despite Friday night’s win. The Falcons have to visit Region 7-AAA front-runner Gilmer (8-1, 5-0) on Monday in Ellijay.

"That’s going to be a major statement game for our team," Stone added.

West Hall plays host to North Hall at 5:30 p.m. Monday in Oakwood.

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