When Flowery Branch High senior Cody Ackerman made a request last month to Falcons coach Jimmy Lawler asking for a chance at his first career start on the mound, he couldn’t have possibly imagined how timely it was.
Ackerman got his wish granted on Wednesday night and delivered a 7-4 complete game victory for the Falcons (12-2, 8-2 Region 7-AAA) over North Hall at the Hog Mountain Sports Complex.
Ackerman, a regular reliever for Flowery Branch, wasn’t overpowering in his first start on the mound, but, did everything that was asked of him throwing 93 pitches over seven innings with three strikeouts and only one walk allowed.
“It’s a big step going from 15 to 93 pitches,” Ackerman said. “But hopefully I showed what I could do with the opportunity.”
Ackerman was particularly effective in the middle innings, setting down seven of eight batters he faced in a stretch that started in the fourth inning.
“Cody did a great job on the mound tonight,” Flowery Branch junior Greg Palmer said.
With the win, Flowery Branch moves into a tie with Gilmer (11-3, 8-2) for second place in the region. The Bobcats lost to region leader Gainesville 15-4 on Wednesday night in Ellijay. Flowery Branch has its second meeting of the season against Gainesville next Friday.
“That’s big for our team to win two region games heading into spring break,” Lawler said.
Flowery Branch gave Ackerman plenty of assistance in his first start with eight hits, including multiple hit outings from Palmer and Ashton Sommers.
The Falcons took the lead after scoring five runs in the fourth inning. Flowery Branch loaded the bases twice in the fourth and Brad Stone and Palmer each connected on singles that scored two runs. Bucky Free, a junior, added an RBI single for Flowery Branch in the fourth that scored Sommers.
“I was proud of the job our team did at the plate tonight,” Lawler added. “We had struggled hitting the ball with runners on base.”
Stone and Palmer each finished the game with three RBIs for Flowery Branch. Danny Price and Jordan Miller each added a hit for the Falcons.
“It was a disappointing loss,” North Hall coach Trent Mongero said. “We gave them a chance to get back in the game.”
Jackson Coker and Taylor Daniels each finished with a double and a single for North Hall (9-5, 6-4). Josh Wright had a single and 2 RBI’s for the Trojans. Blayne Gilmer and K.J. McAllister also added hits for North Hall.
The Falcons win was especially demanding, seeing that they were without the services of three starters who are serving a two-game suspension in accordance to the county’s drug screening policy following being arrested for underage drinking on Sunday morning.
The three players are eligible to return next week. Lawler declined to comment if any further punishment would be imposed.
North Hall plays host to West Forsyth at 7 p.m. Monday at Jody Davis Field.