GAINESVILLE -- The mantra of this year's North Hall baseball team has been "find a way."
Not only did the Trojans find a way through the first round of the Class AAA playoffs on Friday, they did so with flair.
The Trojans (20-8) proved their prowess both offensively and defensively, tallying 24 hits and 19 runs in a two-game sweep of Sonoraville. Meanwhile, a dynamic pitching duo combined for two complete games, giving up only six hits and one run in a 8-1 and 11-0 victories at Jody Davis Field.
"We showed up and played fundamental baseball tonight, we hit the ball, fielded the ball, pitched the ball and really played two of the most complete games we have played all year," North Hall coach Trent Mongero said.
Corbin Lewallen (7 innings pitched, 4 hits allowed, 6 strikeouts, 1 run allowed) and Brandon DeLong (5 innings pitched, 2 hits allowed, 6 strikeouts, 0 runs allowed) were all but untouchable from the mound.
At the plate, Andrew Smith (four hits, 2 home runs, 5 runs), Micah Strickland (3 hits, 1 home run, 7 RBI) and McCoy Savage (5 hits, 2 RBI) along with a fleet of other Trojans sprayed the ball around the ballpark, dismantling the Phoenix pitching rotation.
"We're going to have to play solid like tonight in order to make it as far as we would like to in the playoff, but all things considered I like where we are at as a team," Mongero said.
North Hall will play Blessed Trinity in round two of the state playoffs next week.
GAME 1: NORTH HALL 8, SONORAVILLE 1
Lewallen set the tone early, striking out three of the first seven batters and not yielding a hit until the fourth inning.
The Trojans's bats waited until the third inning to warm up, but did so tellingly, collecting three runs on four hits in the inning.
Taber Mongero (5 hits, 5 runs) jump started the third inning for the Trojans, reaching on a single and later advancing to third on a Smith stand-up double to center. On the very next pitch Strickland cleared the bases, scoring three with a towering home run to left-center.
A wild fourth inning that included a North Hall coach's appeal that reversed a safe call for Sonoraville into an out call and a run-saving diving catch by the Sonoraville center fielder resulted in zero runs for both teams.
After five scoreless innings the Phoenix got on the board with one run in the sixth on a RBI double by Drew Wilson that scored Thad Harris, who had reached on a walk early in the inning.
The Trojans offense answered the Phoenix's lone run by tallying two more runs in sixth to seal the outcome.
Again Mongero sparked the Trojans, drilling a line shot to second base that bounced off a diving Phoenix fielder, resulting in a single. Andrew Smith followed Mongero to the plate and crushed a two-run home run over left field wall to cap the Trojans lead at 8-1.
GAME 2: NORTH HALL 11, SONORAVILLE 0
In Game 2, North Hall's bats and pitching continued their rhythm from Game 1.
DeLong delivered a plethora of unhittable breaking balls through all five innings.
Meanwhile, the Trojans offense picked up steam in the third inning. Once again, Mongero led the inning with a single -- a shot that barely cleared a leaping Phoenix second baseman. Smith then walked and Savage singled to load the bases for Strickland -- who cleared the bases with a three-run double.
The inning was extended after a scary moment at the plate, as Trojans catcher Stephen Murray took a pitch off his cheekbone. A courtesy runner came on for Murray, and though he was thrown out at second trying to advance on a wild throw, the same pitch allowed Strickland to score.
Murray showed his grit, staying in the game and assuming his role as catcher in the bottom half of the third inning, a determination that proved invaluable later in the game.
With one out in the fourth the Trojans rallied for five runs. A Sonoraville throwing error, a Mongero walk and a Smith single loaded the bases for Hewitt, who drew a walk to score the first run of the inning, which was followed by a RBI single by Savage -- setting the stage for Murray, who answered with a three-run double to cap a five run fourth inning.
Just as he did in the first game Smith sealed the outcome of the game and the series sweep with a line drive home run, also scoring Mongero.