GAINESVILLE — For five innings, No. 1-ranked North Hall looked anything but as the Trojans had not gotten a runner past first and had no at-bats with runners-in-scoring-position.
They changed all that in one huge inning.
North Hall sent 13 batters to the plate in the sixth and was a blistering 5-for-7 with RISP in the inning as they rallied for a 9-2 win over Greater Atlanta Christian Monday in the opening game of a critical three-game series at Lynn Cottrell Field.
Zach Warwick, who broke the big 9-run inning open with a bases-loaded two-run single, said despite the mostly rough offensive outing they never lost faith.
“We always feel like we’re in the game,” Warwick said. “We made some adjustments that inning and finally got something going. (With the bases loaded) I got a fastball and just tried to put it in play. That was a big comeback for us.”
Warwick’s eventual game-winner took some time to develop. A Jackson Dyer single sandwiched around walks to Wes Tadman and Tyler Brooks loaded the bases with no outs. Jaret Bales brought in Tadman with an RBI single and Caden Bales walked to bring in courtesy-runner Grayson Kirby to tie the game still with no one out bringing up Warwick.
Warwick’s big hit, however, was disputed by the Spartans, who thought the ball hit Tyler Brooks on his way to third. After a brief discussion, the call stood.
“It did hit the runner,” said North Hall coach Trevor Flow, “but since the infield was playing in, once the ball got past them it’s not an out if it hits a runner. That’s probably the first time I‘ve seen a runner get hit in about five years and the first time I’ve seen that rule during a game. It’s rare. But that was just a huge play and a great at-bat by Zach.”
Tate Brooks followed with a two-run double two pitches later for a 6-2 lead, Jackson added an RBI single, and Tyler Brooks capped it with a two-run single.
Meanwhile, Dyer finished off the comeback on the mound with a perfect seventh inning to earn the complete-game win allowing two runs on five hits and striking out eight.
“I thought after the fourth inning Jackson started to really lock-in. I thought from that point on it was probably the best he’s thrown all year,” Flow said.
Dyer worked out of a first-inning jam after Pirmin Brechbuhl singled and Charlie Nieman was hit by a pitch with two outs. Noah Deas reached on an error but second baseman Jaret Bales gunned down Brechbuhl at the plate trying to score from second to end the inning.
But the Spartans (7-3, 3-1 Region 7-3A) broke through in the third when Zac Mixon doubled with one out, moved to third on a ground out, and scored on a Dyer wild pitch for a 1-0 lead. They added a run in the fourth when Deas was hit by a pitch and courtesy-runner Luke Hardin stole second and scored on an RBI double from Mac Neiman.
The Spartans’ Graham Stoger took the loss allowing four runs on five hits and three big walks in five-plus innings.
“I thought (Stoger) did a good job for them but we noticed he was getting tired and we just told the guys to be patient and stay away from the high (pitches),” Flow said. “That was a big win for us but we just have to get ready for the next one.”
The win for the Trojans (11-3, 3-1 Region 7-3A) moved them into a first-place with the Spartans. The two teams will resume their three-game series on Wednesday in Norcross and come back to Lynn Cottrell Field on Friday.