GAINESVILLE — West Hall was in it until the end against No. 1 North Hall on Wednesday at Cottrell Field.
After going down in the first inning 2-0, the Spartans (19-9, 11-6 Region 7-3A) held the Trojans (22-4, 16-1 Region 7-3A) scoreless over the next five innings while scoring two runs -- one in the third and one in the fifth -- to knot the game at 2-2.
West Hall pitcher Alex Holman was a huge part in keeping the Trojans bats quiet, going six innings while allowing just three runs on three hits. He also fanned six Trojans.
But Bradford Puryear smacked Holman's two-out 2-0 pitch to centerfield in the bottom of the sixth for a double that scored Jay Johnson, who led off the inning with a single. The run pushed the Trojans ahead, 3-2. North Hall's defense sat down three of the four batters it faced in the top of the seventh to seal the win.
The loss drops the Spartans from the No. 2 spot in the region to No. 4. White County moved up to No. 2, while Cherokee Bluff is one win away from storming past White County for the No. 2 seed in the Class 3A playoffs next week.
Meanwhile, Eli Reece picked up the win, giving up two runs on four hits, while striking out three through six innings of work. Baker Dyer picked up the save, tossing one, one-hit inning.
Jay Johnson was 2-for-3 at the plate to lead the Trojans' hitting; while Jace Bowen, Jaret Bales and Puryear drove in a run apiece.
Braden Simms and Will Brannan recorded two hits each for the Spartans.
The two will end the series on Friday at Spartan Field in Oakwood. Game time is set for 5:55 p.m.
CHEROKEE BLUFF 22,
Despite going down 8-7, the Bears scored 15 straight runs, including an eight-run seventh inning to blow out Gilmer on the road Wednesday.
The Bears (19-9, 11-6 Region 7-3A) jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the third inning but allowed the Bobcats (5-22, 2-15 Region 7-3A) to score six runs in the bottom to take an 8-7 lead.
But Bluff scored two runs in the fourth and fifth, three in the sixth and eighth in the seventh.
Dylan Kautz was 3-for-6 with fourth RBIs. Jacob Vokal was 3-for-5 with two RBIs, Byrce Engal was 3-for-5 with three RBIs, Ty Corbin was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, and Caleb Miele was 2-fo-3 with three RBIs to lead the Bears offense.
Lucas Tritt and Caleb Piland added two hits.
Game 3 of the series shifts back to Bluff on Friday. If the Bears complete the sweep, they'll earn the No. 2 seed in next week's Class 3A playoffs.
FLOWERY BRANCH 16,
Despite the blowout loss to No. 6 Flowery Branch, the War Eagles playoff hopes are still alive, thanks to North Oconee.
With Chestatee (16-13, 8-9 Region 8-4A) holding the tiebreaker over Madison County, they'll seal up the No. 4 spot win or lose on Friday if North Oconee completes the sweep over Madison County.
But on Wednesday, leading 3-0 going into the third inning, the Falcons (21-7, 12-5 Region 8-4A) exploded for 13 runs. The War Eagles couldn't find an answer in the bottom of the inning to hold off the run-rule.
Connor Larson, Nick Linkowski, JB Bell, Kaleb Freeman, Jake Beaver, Baxley O'Brien, Austin Bourrie with two hits apiece to pace the Falcons.
Kade Smallwood and Mason Compton both with a hit, while Jake Beaver and Austin Bourrie with three RBIs
JB Bell, Kaleb Freeman and Mason Compton all notched two RBIs.
Game 3 of the series will move back to Flowery Branch on Friday.
AREA SCOREBOARD, Wednesday, April 21
Cherokee Bluff 22, Gilmer 9*
Dawson County 7, Lumpkin County 4*
Jefferson 9, East Hall 1*
Flowery Branch 16, Chestatee 0*
West Forsyth 11, Gainesville 3*
Lanier 3, Habersham Central 2*
Apalachee 11, Johnson 1*
Rabun County 4, White County 3
The Weber School 18, Lakeview Academy 2*
Walnut Grove 10, Jackson County 2*
North Hall 3, West Hall 2*
AREA BASEBALL SCHEDULE FOR Thursday, April 22
Commerce at Social Circle (DH), 5 p.m.*
Grayson at Buford
Rabun County at Rabun Gap