Thursday May 26th, 2016 8:40AM

Baseball: North Hall beats Spartans, widens lead for 2nd in 7-AAA

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
GAINESVILLE -- North Hall was looking to put some distance between itself and West Hall Tuesday in the race for the second spot in Region 7-AAA.

The Spartans were looking to close the gap with just six games remaining in the regular season.

The Trojans came out feeling a little bit better after taking a 7-1 win over West Hall at Jody Davis Field in cold, windy conditions.

"Our goal is to try and secure that spot and every game is important right now," North Hall coach Trent Mongero said. "West Hall is a very good team, well-coached and we knew it would be a battle."

Senior Corbin Lewallen was just good enough to hold off a Spartans lineup that had been raking off late. He limited them to just four hits and worked around two walks and four hit batters to pick up his third win of the season.

"He didn't have his best stuff but he competed and battled and that's what you want from guys when they don't have their best," Mongero said. "The conditions early I think affected both teams and it took some time to adjust."

After giving up an unearned run in the third, Lewallen (3-1) retired seven straight at one point and 12 of the final 16 batters for the complete-game victory.

The North Hall offense built its lead on patience early and taking advantage of four West Hall errors. The Trojans coaxed seven walks and two hit batters from Spartans' starter Zack Collins and reliever Michael Cronic to go with three hits for a quick 5-0 lead after the first two innings.

"We just try to take what people give us. Small ball can be just as effective as home runs," Mongero said. "We did a good job as a team of being patient."

Lincoln Hewett paced the offense with two hits, two RBI, and scored twice. Andrew Smith belted his fourth home run of the season and also scored twice.

West Hall did its best to get to Lewallen early. The Spartans got two runners on in the bottom of the first when Zack English ripped Lewallen's first pitch of the game into center. Lewallen plunked Brian Newman with two outs but got Cam Warner to fly out to center to end the inning.

North Hall then went to work in the bottom of the first. Smith was hit by Collins and would move around to third after one-out walks to Micah Strickland and Hewett to load the bases. Lewallen's fly ball to center was misplayed allowing two runs to score. Stephen Murray walked reloading the bases but Collins got Drew Atha to flyout to end the inning with a 2-0 lead.

The Trojans continued to torment Collins in the second. Tabor Mongero walked, stole second, and then moved to third on a perfect one-out bunt single by Savage. Both would come in to score on a long double off the centerfield fence by Hewett. who would score on a single by Lewallen for a 5-0 lead.

Collins lasted just two innings for West Hall allowing three hits, walking four, and hitting two batters.

The Spartans finally got something going in the top of the third. Jacob Miller reached on an error and eventually scored on Cameron Johnson's double to left to cut the lead to 5-1. But they hit into a double play and stranded two more runners in what could have been a much bigger inning.

The Spartans brought in Cronic to start the third and he struck out two while holding the Trojans scoreless for the first time in the game. The Trojans then added on another unearned run in the fourth but left two more runners stranded and Smith belted his home run in the fifth for a 7-1 lead.

North Hall (15-6, 13-3 Region 7-AAA) had chances for bigger innings but stranded nine through the first four innings. The Trojans have won four straight.

For West Hall (14-7, 10-6) English finished with two hits. Cronic had one hit for the Spartans, who have now lost two straight and fell three games behind North Hall in the standings.
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