GAINESVILLE -- After a tough start to the season, the North Hall baseball team may have gotten the spark it was looking for.
The Trojans scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh with two outs to tie the game and then got a run-scoring wild pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth to pull off a stunning 5-4 victory over Lumpkin County Wednesday at Jody Davis Field.
"You know, we've been very competitive but it's just been a play here or there that has made the difference," North Hall coach Trent Mongero said. "These guys have confidence in themselves and hopefully this will be a confidence-builder to finish games."
It was a solid pitcher's duel the entire way between the Trojans' Josh Hammond and Lumpkin County's Daniel McCrary.
McCrary, a senior southpaw, surrendered just five hits and fanned 10 in 7 1/3 innings. He got stronger as he went on striking out all 10 the second and third times through the North Hall order.
But Hammond was equally as tough allowing seven hits, but just three after the third inning, and striking out four in a complete-game effort.
"I thought Josh did a great job," Mongero said. "He was at less than 100 pitches and we never really thought about bringing him out. He threw a nice game for us."
In the pivotal seventh, the Trojans (2-3) were down to their last strike with two runners on base. Micah Strickland however, laced a 0-2 pitch for a double to center scoring Hammond and Lincoln Hewett followed with a two-run single to center scoring McCoy Savage and Strickland to tie the game, 4-4.
"I've never had a walk-off hit but that was as close as you can get," said Hewett, who pumped his fists rounding first base. "I just was trying to keep things going and get on base any way I could. This was a big win for us."
After Hammond set down the Indians (3-2) in order in the top of the eighth, North Hall won it in the bottom of the inning. McCrary fanned Fowler Brooks to start the inning but gave way to Matt Satterfield. Matthew Cox singled to left, Tabor Mongero singled to center, and after an intentional walk to Andrew Smith, Satterfield uncorked a wild pitch on his first offering to Savage scoring Cox for the game-winner.
"We talk about keeping it going for the next guy and I thought the guys did a great job of that tonight," Mongero said.
It was a strong beginning for Lumpkin County, which struck first in the top of the first inning. Hammond started with two strikeouts but hit Tim Summersett to keep the inning alive. McCrary singled to left and went to second on a throw to third and Avery Whitehead drove in Summersett and McCrary with a single to center for a 2-0 lead.
The Trojans answered with a run in the bottom of the first. Smith doubled to lead off the inning, stole third, and then scored on a RBI ground out from Savage.
The Indians added on in the third. Sebastian Dunn reached on an error to start the inning and later scored on a bases loaded single from Weston Dowdy. Summersett, who walked after Dunn, then scored on a sacrifice fly from Holden Brown for a 4-1 Lumpkin County lead.
The Trojans had chances to cut into the Lumpkin lead but left five runners stranded from the second to fifth innings, four in scoring position. McCrary stiffened with runners on base fanning five in a three inning span with two out or less.