GAINESVILLE — No. 1-ranked North Hall made an early statement in the Class 3A playoffs on Wednesday.
The Region 7-3A champion Trojans swept the first-round doubleheader from Coahulla Creek, 7-0 and 5-0, getting a pair of superb pitching performances from Jaret Bales and Eli Reece at Cottrell Field.
The pair of right-handers surrendered just four total hits and combined for 14 strikeouts in the twin bill while also getting error-free defense behind them. No Colts runners got past second in either contest.
It was the kind of start to the playoffs that North Hall coach Trevor Flow was looking for.
“Both guys threw great and that may be the best Eli has thrown all season,” Flow said. “The defense was flawless behind them. We’ll need that kind of effort the rest of the way.”
If there was a chink in the armor, the offense squandered several scoring chances that would have blown open either game early on. It will be an area that Flow knows will have to improve as the Trojans await the winner of the Hart County-Redan series, which begins on Thursday.
The Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 much of the season and offer a pitching staff that is as dominant as any in the state.
The Trojans (25-4) managed 15 hits in the series but stranded more than a half-dozen runners in scoring position.
“We were off-balance a lot and impatient tonight. We will have to be better in the next no matter who we have,” Flow said.
The second-round series will begin on Tuesday at Cottrell Field.
GAME 1: North Hall 7, Coahulla Creek 0
Jaret Bales, in his first-ever postseason start, went six innings scattering two hits and striking out five to get the win in the opening game of the series. Landon Davis pitched a quiet seventh to close out the game.
Meanwhile, the offense went to work quickly against Colts starter Ben Glines, who was forced to leave in the second inning with an injury.
Bales got things started at the plate with an RBI single in the first. The Trojans added three unearned runs in the second on a pop to left that was dropped with the bases loaded. Bradford Puryear added an RBI double in the third to push it to a 5-0 lead.
Baker Dyer had an RBI single in the fifth and Jace Bowen tripled and scored on an error in the sixth.
GAME 2: North Hall 5, Coahulla Creek 0
The Colts (11-16) sent their ace, Kyle Felker, to the mound to start the second game looking to even the series. For two innings he kept the Trojans in check.
But in the third Hudson Barrett walked, stole second, and moved to third on Luke Erickson’s single off Felker’s foot to put runners at first and third. Tate Brooks brought Barrett in with an RBI groundout and Erickson, who also stole second, moved to third. He scored on Jay Johnson’s RBI single to make it 2-0.
Both teams had golden opportunities in the fourth. North Hall got runners to second and third with no one out but could not scratch across a run as Felker struck out Erickson to get out of the inning. The Colts got a walk and single with one out but Reece struck out two to also get out of a jam and keep a 2-0 lead.
The Trojans took that momentum as Brooks singled to lead off the fifth and eventually scored on Bowen’s sac fly to left to push the lead to 3-0. That would be the end of the day for Felker. Justin Baker came on in relief for the Colts to start the sixth and Dyer stroked a two-run single to make it 5-0.
Hunter Brooks closed out the game on the mound for North Hall getting a double play to end the game and the series.
FIRST ROUND BASEBALL SCOREBOARD, Wednesday, April 28
Wednesday, April 28
Hampton 5-9, Chestatee 3-2
Flowery Branch 10-10 Fayette County 0-5
Jefferson 19-13, Mt. Zion-Jonesboro 4-3
North Hall 7-5, Coahulla Creek 0-0
FIRST ROUND BASEBALL SCHEDULE
(Games listed by date and classification, highest to smallest)
(Games listed by visiting team in alphabetical order)
(Area teams highlighted in bold)
Alexander (R5, S4) at Buford (R8, S1) -- (DH), 4 p.m.
Habersham Central (R8, S4) at Carrollton (R5, S1) -- (DH), 3 p.m.
Lakeview-Forth Oglethorpe (R6, S3) at Cherokee Bluff (R7, S2) -- (DH), 4 p.m.
White County (R7, S3) at Sonoraville (R6, S2) -- (DH), 4 p.m.
West Hall (R7, S4) at Ringgold (R6, S1) -- (DH), 5 p.m.
Haralson County (R5, S3) at Banks County (R8, S2) -- (DH), 5 p.m.
Rabun County (R8, S4) at Bremen (R5, S1) -- (DH), TBD
Union County (R8, S3) at Callaway (R5, S2) -- (DH), 5 p.m.
CLASS A PUBLIC
Marion County (R5, S4) at Commerce (R8, S1) -- (DH), 5 p.m.
Friday, April 30
Alexander (R5, S4) at Buford (R8, S1) -- Game 3, if necessary, 5:55 p.m.
Habersham Central (R8, S4) at Carrollton (R5, S1) -- Game 3, if necessary, TBD
Lakeview-Forth Oglethorpe (R6, S3) at Cherokee Bluff (R7, S2) -- Game 3, if necessary, 5 p.m.
White County (R7, S3) at Sonoraville (R6, S2) -- Game 3, if necessary, 4 p.m.
West Hall (R7, S4) at Ringgold (R6, S1) -- Game 3, if necessary, TBD
Haralson County (R5, S3) at Banks County (R8, S2) -- Game 3, if necessary, 2 p.m.
Rabun County (R8, S4) at Bremen (R5, S1) -- Game 3, if necessary, 3 p.m.
Union County (R8, S3) at Callaway (R5, S2) -- Game 3, if necessary, 3 p.m.
CLASS A PUBLIC
Marion County (R5, S4) at Commerce (R8, S1) -- Game 3, if necessary, 1 p.m.