GAINESVILLE — History was made and a streak continued Friday night for the North Hall baseball team in a two-game sweep of Hart County in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.
North Hall hurlers Reese Olson and Caleb Clark allowed just one run in 13 total innings in pacing 5-1 and 11-0 victories over the Bulldogs at Jody Davis Field. Those efforts helped push the defending Class 3A state champions streak of playoff wins to 11 going back to the first round of the 2017 playoffs.
The history was Olson, senior right-hander and Georgia Tech-signee, tying former North Hall standout Preston Graham for the most wins in program history (27) in a complete-game victory in Game 1. Olson broke out a huge grin when made aware of his accomplishment.
“Wow, I did not know that. That’s awesome. That’s what you play for,” he said.
Clark followed Olson’s gem with one of his own with a four-hit shutout in six innings.
“That may be the best Reese has thrown all year and Caleb was very solid,” North Hall coach Trevor Flow said. “Both guys threw less than 80 pitches. Tremendous efforts by both.
“Pitching is still our strong suit. The offense has been good but will need to do a little more in the next round.”
North Hall (23-5) next will play host to Lovett in the second round beginning next Thursday. The Lions took a pair of 5-3 victories over Calhoun in the first round on Friday.
GAME 1: NORTH HALL 5, HART COUNTY 1
Olson came out firing fanning a pair of Bulldog batters and getting a third to ground out to the mound in the opening frame throwing just one ball in 10 pitches in the inning.
That set the tone as Olson finished with 12 punchouts, including the final out of the game, while walking just one and scattering six hits to get the complete-game win.
“I was a little more focused and my off-speed pitches were much better than the last couple of weeks,” Olson said.
But it was a pitcher’s duel for the first four innings as Olson battled with sidewinder Bradley Williams, who kept the Trojans off-stride most of the game.
North Hall broke through in the first getting an unearned run as David Seavy got the first hit of the playoffs for the Trojans, a single to left, and then came around to score on a defensive miscue in the outfield on a liner to center by Charlie Erickson for a 1-0 lead after the first inning.
It stayed that way until the top of the third when the Bulldogs tied the game. Cane Berrong ended a string of six straight set down by Olson to open the game ripping a double into the left field corner to start the third. He moved to third on a sacrifice and scored on a wild pitch by Olson to tie the game at 1-1.
Hart County was poised to take the lead in the fifth belting out a pair of hits. But North Hall right fielder Caleb Clark thwarted a great opportunity by gunning down Will Crump at third for the second out. Olson got out of the inning with his 10th strikeout of the game to keep it a 1-1 game going to the bottom of the fifth.
That seemed to fire up the Trojans offense, which finally got to Williams. A walk to Tyler Brooks, a balk, a sacrifice and a RBI hit from Caleb Wiley gave the Trojans a 2-1 lead. Olson then followed with a RBI hit to extend it to 3-1 and Charlie Erickson ripped two-run double to center to make it 5-1.
Olson then retired six of the final eight Hart County batters to preserve the Game 1 victory.
GAME 2: NORTH HALL 11, HART COUNTY 0, 6 innings
After both pitchers cruised through the first, North Hall took the first lead loading the bases on a pair of walks and a hit batter with two out in the top of the second. Clark helped himself providing the big blow with a bases-clearing double to left for a 3-0 lead.
The Bulldogs tried to answer in the bottom of the inning but stranded runners at first and third as Clark struck out Casey Tallent to end the inning.
North Hall blew it open in the third. The Trojans plated five runs, highlighted by three-run triple from Clark and knocked out Hart County starter Reece Whitworth, who lasted just 2 1/3 innings yielding eight runs on just two hits but walked seven and hit two others.
“Those were huge hits by Caleb,” Flow said. “I thought we did a nice job with two strikes and getting some key hits.”
The Trojans had a chance to put the Mercy Rule in effect loading the bases in the fourth but Dylan Wiley struck out to end the inning. They added a run in the fifth on a RBI single from Jackson Dyer for a 9-0 lead.
North Hall did put things away in the sixth as Dylan Wiley knocked in a run with an infield single and Clark knocked in a run on a double play grounder for an 11-0 lead.
Flow said his young team at the beginning of the season has grown up but still has room to improve. They played error-less ball in support of their dominant pitching.
“The young guys have come along and we can still get better,” he said. “We still have some young moments. But I was probably the most proud of how played defense.”