GAINESVILLE -- North Hall may not have the offensive thunder of seasons past, but the Trojans are still plenty dangerous.
North Hall used four straight RBI hits in a five-run fifth inning to blow open a close game en route to a 10-2 win over West Hall Friday at Jody Davis Field in the first major skirmish in Region 7-AAA.
Both teams came into the contest tied with Buford atop the region standings. North Hall (5-3, 3-0 Region 7-AAA) has now won four straight after a slow start to the season. The two teams will meet again Monday at West Hall in the back-half of the home-and-home series.
It's the third straight game of 10 or more runs for the Trojans, who scored just 11 total runs in their three losses. They have yet to go deep in the 2014 season, but, they also had seven stolen bases -- three by Andrew Smith -- to constantly put pressure on the West Hall pitchers.
"We're getting some confidence at the plate," North Hall coach Trent Mongero said. "We have some guys that can hit home runs but they're staying within themselves and just going with the pitch. But we have several guys with speed and try to use that to our advantage. It's a big part of our game."
While the offense was touching up three West Hall pitchers, reliever Josh Hammond stymied the Spartans (6-2, 2-1) who cut a 5-0 lead to 5-2 and had the tying run at the plate in the fifth. Hammond retired the first four batters he faced and got a game-ending double play to save the win for senior Brandon DeLong, the first of his high school career.
"It was something else. Really exciting," DeLong said. "I was nervous at first but I knew the guys were behind me. I just tried to throw strikes and get outs."
"Brandon did an excellent job for not having ever started a game at this level," Mongero said. "We got him an inning of work (Thursday night) to shake some of the nerves. It was a big lift for us with our top pitcher still not available."
In the first, DeLong retired the first two Spartans but surrendered back-to-back singles to Cameron Johnson and Brian Newman. He got out of the inning inducing a groundout by Cam Warner.
The Trojans responded in the bottom of the first. Smith led off with a walk, stole second, and scored on a one-out single by Micah Strickland. Stephen Murray knocked in Strickland, who stole second and then moved to third on a wild pitch, on a RBI groundout for a 2-0 lead.
North Hall added three runs in the bottom of the second taking advantage of two West Hall errors and chased West Hall starter Michael Cronic. Fowler Brooks walked and later scored on an error on a grounder by McCoy Savage. Taber Mongero reached on an error and scored on a sacrifice fly by Strickland, and Smith walked and scored on a two-out single by Lincoln Hewett for a 5-0 lead.
West Hall got on the board in the third when Lincoln Stubbs singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, and later scored on a RBI groundout by Johnson to trail 5-1.
DeLong settled down after that retiring five Spartans in a row at one stretch. Cam Warner relieved Cronic in the second for West Hall and allowed just one hit in three innings but was charged with two runs .
The Spartans continued to chip away. Zack Collins walked to start the fifth, moved to second on a Jacob Taylor single, and after a wild pitch moved him to third, he scored on a safety squeeze by Stubbs to trim the lead to 5-2, knocking DeLong from the game. Johnson would sacrifice Taylor and English to second and third but Hammond struck out Newman to end the threat.
The Trojans answered in the bottom of the fifth getting one-out back-to-back walks from Drew Coker and Brooks, chasing Warner for Collins, and a groundout by Hammond moved them to second and third with two outs. North Hall battered Collins with two outs.
Mongero stroked a slicing double to left scoring two runs, Smith followed with a bad-hop infield single scoring Mongero, Savage singled scoring Smith, and Strickland double to left scoring Savage for a 10-2 lead.