0429NHMongeroAUDListen to North Hall baseball coach discuss the Trojans' 10-3 win against Johnson on Monday.
OAKWOOD — A night of cold weather in late April couldn’t stop North Hall High pitcher Josh Wright.
The Trojans senior battled 40-degree weather to strike out eight, pitch a complete game and pick up his seventh win of the season in North Hall’s 10-3 victory against Johnson on Monday night in Oakwood.
“You have to battle through it,” Wright said of the conditions. “You have to remember that there have been worse scenarios.”
With the win and White County’s loss to East Hall, the Trojans (16-8, 13-7 Region 7-AAA) move two games ahead of the Warriors for fourth place in the region.
The Trojans can clinch a spot in the postseason with a win when they play host to Flowery Branch at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
“Our goal all year long is to make the state playoffs,” North Hall head coach Trent Mongero said. “We have an opportunity and we control our own destiny.
“We have to come out and play like we’re comfortable every night and we feel like we can do that.”
The Trojans, who fell to Johnson (8-16, 5-15) 5-4 earlier this season, have won two games in a row and four of their last five.
“We realize how important every single game is right now,” Mongero said. “We came out with focus and got the job done.”
North Hall took an early lead in the top of the first when K.J. McAllister scored on Wright’s double. Alongside his pitching performance, Wright finished the night 2-for-3 with an RBI.
The Trojans scored six runs over the next two innings, earning hits from the bottom of their lineup.
Blayne Gilmer, North Hall’s No. 7 hitter, was 2-for-3 with a home run and three runs. Mark Fuller, the eighth hitter, was 3-for-4 with a double and a run. And Graham Duncan, the Trojans’ last hitter in the order, was 3-for-4 with two runs, two RBIs and three stolen bases.
“All season long we’ve had contributions from different parts of the lineup,” Mongero said. “We have some guys that are stepping up and getting opportunities that didn’t have them earlier in the year.”
The Knights prevented North Hall from increasing their lead in the top of the fourth inning when pinch hitter Chris Stephens grounded into a 5-4-3 triple play with runners on first and second.
Despite the solid defense, Johnson was unable to capitalize at the plate. Wright had a no-hitter through three full innings before Johnson’s Jared Stone earned his team’s first hit in the bottom of the fourth.
“I was trying to keep them off balance, but also letting them hit it and getting help from the defense,” Wright said. “I have full confidence in my defense.”
Shortly after their first hit, the Knights scored their first run when David Jones doubled to score Stone. Jones finished the night 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, while striking out three in relief for starting pitcher Will Rowlett.
North Hall answered back with three runs in the next two innings. Duncan singled to score Gilmer in the fifth and in the sixth inning, Jackson scored on an error and Trey Pinson scored Jeffery Abernathy on a sacrifice.
The Knights’ final attempt at a comeback came in bottom of the seventh when Bradley Stevenson singled to score Stone. Wright, however, stranded two Johnson runners to close the inning and finish the game.
“Josh has given us solid performances almost every night this year,” Mongero said. “He didn’t have his best stuff tonight, but he competed and made big pitches when he had to.”
Johnson looks to rebound from the loss when they travel to Lumpkin County at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday.