Friday December 8th, 2023 2:22AM

(VIDEO) Playoff baseball: North Hall rallies past Pace Academy to advance in AAA

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

ATLANTA — Taber Mongero started it and Corban Meeler finished it as North Hall fought back from two early deficits to hold off Pace Academy 6-5 Saturday in the deciding Game 3 in their best-of-three Class AAA series.

The Trojans (21-11) trailed 1-0 in the first but plated two in the bottom of the first to take their first lead. The Knights reclaimed the lead with a par of runs in the third but North Hall retook the lead for good with three in the fourth. The Trojans added a run in the fifth and then had to withstand a furious seventh-inning rally.

Mongero, making just his third start since being cleared to pitch after breaking his thumb early in the season, tossed six innings scattering six hits and allowing three runs while striking out eight and walking none. He gave way in the seventh leading 6-3 first to Reese Olson, who allowed two runs on two walks, and then to Meeler, who allowed one hit and then hit a batter before striking out Justin Rayman to end the game and the series for his second save of the season.

The key for the Trojans, who struggled over the final two weeks of the season, was they played errorless ball in the biggest game of the season to this point.

"Taber threw well and Corban came in and slammed the door," North Hall coach Trent Mongero said. "I'm just so prouf of the guys for believing in themselves and staying focused. Just a great team effort.

"The key to me was that we had quality at-bats throughout the lineup, we played great defense, and pitched well. It was nice to see them play the way we know they are capable."

Taber Mongero, Jackson Latty, and Charlie Erickson each had two hits for North Hall. John Mark Montgomery and Dylan Lavender had one hit apiece for the Trojans. Erickson knocked in two runs and Montgomery and Lavender both had one RBI.

The Trojans pitching was the key to the series win. Pace Academy came into the series averaging 9.57 runs per game on the season. North Hall held them to just 13 total runs (4.33 rpg) in the three games.

North Hall will move on to the second round and take on Region 3-AAA champion Southeast Bulloch (near Statesboro) on the road beginning on Thursday.

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