Just like in the first round of state, North Hall’s baseball team lives to fight another day. On Thursday, the Trojans beat Westminster 13-5 in the nightcap, forcing a deciding Game 3 of the Class 3A second-round playoff series in Gainesville. North Hall’s back was against the wall after losing the opener 4-2 in 10 innings.
To open the postseason, the Trojans advanced after a three-game series against Coahulla Creek.
“You came back and survived and advanced,” North Hall coach Trevor Flow said. “No doubt that you’re tired and sore but keep guaranteeing yourself one more game.”
Game 3 is at 5 p.m. tonight. The winner advances to face Appling County in the quarterfinals.
Flow knew his team had to enter the nightcap with more effort. And they made a statement, as the Trojans scored within the first five minutes off of Caleb Wiley’s double, which scored Tyler Brooks who had previously tripled.
Once the seventh inning rolled past the 11 p.m. mark, the Trojans and Wildcats had made the matchup close with North Hall up 6-5. For the Trojans, though, their lead was too close for comfort as they scored seven more runs to put the game to bed and even the series.
Jackson Dyer opened the inning with a single to center. Three batters later, the bases were loaded for Bradford Puryear, who singled up the middle to score two. Three more singles and three more bases loaded opportunities led to the Trojans final five runs of the nightcap.
Flow credits their explosive final inning to the confidence and patience that culminated throughout their at-bats all night.
The first leg of the doubleheader was a thriller, featuring a rally by both teams in the seventh inning to tie it before the Wildcats won in a game that lasted almost three hours.
Jackson Dyer started and pitched into the 10th inning, allowing four runs (two earned). With the score tied 2-2, two consecutive singles led off the 10th inning and set up runners on first and second for the Wildcats. On the first pitch, Westminster’s Grant Matzigkeit singled in the go-ahead run.
Two batters later and with the bases loaded, Matthew Amerson scored the final run with a sacrifice fly.
“I went to him last night and told him I need a number one type start out of you, and I could not be more proud of that kid and the way he stepped up and took that opportunity and ran with it,” Flow said of Dyer’s performance in the first game. “He went nine innings in less than 120 pitches; you don’t see that in high school baseball.”
North Hall held control of the game prior to the seventh inning, with Dyer carrying a scoreless, three-hit game. The Wildcats led off the inning with a double, while the Trojans followed with an error, an intentional walk and a strikeout. With the bases loaded, the Wildcats scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly. Luke Jannetta followed with a single, scoring the go-ahead run.
The Trojans responded with a two-out rally. Caleb Wiley squeezed a routine fly out into a double as the right and center fielder collided to knock the ball loose. Dyer made up for the top-of-the-inning with game-tying double.
Prior to the seventh inning, the Trojans had scored in the third inning after Caleb Clark’s leadoff double, Tyler Brooks’ bunt single, Wiley’s walk and Dyer’s run-scoring double.
“When you play an incredible baseball game like that, and it doesn’t go your way you’re just kind of drained and flat,” Flow said. “I could feel that in the guys. For a game like to take all the air out of their sails and for them to get back up and respond I though that was huge. I’m extremely proud of that.”