North Hall’s Josh Wright has, what he likes to refer to as, a bulldog mentality on the mound. It’s his inner confidence that the opposition isn’t going to be able to score when the ball is in his hand.
Wright’s bulldog mentality thrived under the toughest of conditions against White County on Friday night when he entered the game with the bases loaded and no outs in the fifth inning and set down the side to preserve a 4-1 Trojans (13-7, 10-6 Region 7-AAA) victory in Cleveland.
"We needed this win tonight," Wright said. "We’re in a tight playoff race and every game is important."
White County loaded the bases against Trojans starter Davis Partrick in the fifth inning with an RBI single from freshman David Sosebee, infield single from Kevin Frederick and a walk by Bart Westmoreland.
Then Trojans coach Trent Mongero gave the ball to Wright hoping to ensure Partrick’s four strong innings wouldn’t be for naught.
Wright’s task wasn’t easy going against the meat of the Warriors (11-9, 9-7) order, with clean-up hitter Josh Ingram and No. 5 hitter Jesse Brown coming up with one out.
Wright managed to record the second out on a fly out by Ingram, which set the stage for a showdown between two senior leaders from each club.
Wright managed to get Brown on a check swing for the second strike. Then North Hall’s ace managed to strikeout Brown swinging for the third out of the inning, and stranded three Warriors hitters on base.
"We just didn’t get the timely hits tonight," White County coach John Brown said. "We got the bases loaded with No. 4 and 5 coming up and they’ve been delivering all season, but it just didn’t happen tonight."
The fifth-inning rally by White County was the second consecutive inning the Warriors left the bases loaded.
In the fourth, the Warriors strung together two out singles from Ingram, Brown and Travis Rutkiewicz. Partrick got out of the jam by getting the next batter to fly out en route to his second victory on the mound this season.
"Davis really stepped up his game tonight," Mongero said.
North Hall had all of its run production in the first four innings.
Partrick helped his own cause on the mound with an RBI double in the second inning to score Taylor Daniels.
In the third, senior Josh Haymore drove a first pitch double off the right field wall and later scored on a pass ball. With the bases loaded, Partrick was hit by a pitch to score sophomore shortstop K.J. McAllister.
Haymore finished the game 2-for-3 with a walk. Jackson Coker and Graham Duncan each added singles for the Trojans.
Rutkiewicz finished with two hits for the Warriors.
With the win, North Hall jumps past White County for the No. 4 spot in the region. The Trojans finish with a season split with the Warriors in the regular season losing the first match-up 7-2 at Jody Davis Field earlier this season.
"This was a must win game for us tonight, but they’re all going to be a must win for us from now on," Mongero said. "We need to win each of our last six."
White County visits Lumpkin County at 5:45 p.m. on Monday in Dahlonega. North Hall plays host to West Hall at 7 p.m. on Monday at Jody Davis Field.