North Hall High’s baseball program has a streak that lasts another season.
With a 3-0 win against Coahulla Creek on Thursday, the Trojans (17-13) advanced to the second round of the state playoffs for the seventh straight season. North Hall took the first-round series after splitting the first two games in the best-of-three series Wednesday.
Once it was over, gloves flooded the first-base line at Jody Davis Field, representing a calming exhale after an ongoing season deluged with adversity.
“I’d say this is extremely big,” Trojans starting pitcher Wed Tadman said. “If we can keep the momentum going into the next series, I think we could shock a lot of people.”
Tate Brooks began the scoring in the fifth inning with a double that short-hopped the left-field wall, scoring Jaret Bales, who reached second base on a single and sacrifice bunt.
Brooks took a different approach to that at-bat by taking a deep breath and widening his base.
“I just tried to build my focus up more,” Brooks said. “I sat back and hammered it, got on two and pumped everyone up.
“When you’re not hitting that much and when everyone’s not pumped, you’ve got to get the team excited somehow, and in a hit like that, the team goes nuts. And to get runs in, that’s contagious.”
Productive and patient at-bats kept the inning alive and loaded the bases. With Tate Brooks on third, Tyler Brooks on second (hit by pitch) and Caleb Wiley on first (walk), Jackson Dyer beat out an incredible lunging grab by the Colts’ second baseman for a one-run single.
Bradford Puryear responded with his own infield hit for the final run.
The Trojans capitalized on Coahulla Creek’s shortcomings. Puryear’s routine ground ball to third overwhelmed the Colts’ third baseman, who opted for an unsuccessful force out at third.
The most compelling stat of the night summarized the Trojans plate discipline perfectly: North Hall went all seven innings without a strikeout at the plate.
Tadman kept the boat steady, pitching a two-hit shutout with four punchouts and one walk. After the game, Tadman said he felt comfortable before taking the mound. That calmness never left his side.
“I’ll tell you what, Wes Tadman, I cannot say enough about him,” North Hall’s coach Trevor Flow said. “We’ve been preaching ‘new day, new hero’ – that exemplifies it right there.
“I knew that if we won that fifth inning, we’d have a really good chance. I told them, ‘Just give me one or two (runs) in the fifth,’ and I felt good about the way Wes was throwing because it was coming out of his hand good and he looked confident.”
Approaching a must-win game in the state playoffs can seem intimidating, but Tadman dealt expertly, to say the least, and prepared for the situation well, proceeding to bed early the night before.
“I really wasn’t that nervous,” Tadman said. “I don’t know why. I felt confident, and I knew that if I did what I needed to that it would turn out alright.”
It sure did.
After the field was raked and the bases were removed, Flow led his team to the locker room to celebrate the best way he knew how — singing “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.” The Toby Keith song has been a seven-year tradition after road wins.
“It’s just a tradition we’ve always done,” Flow said. “We win and they sing. It’s a unity thing. I told them that if we win this series, we’d make sure we’d get it in again for the seniors.”