GAINESVILLE — For the second time in four years, and the third time in eight years, the North Hall baseball team will play for a state title.
The Trojans will open a best-of-three series with a doubleheader against Franklin County at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Coolray Field for the Georgia High School Association Class 3A championship. A Game 3, if necessary, would be at noon on Monday at Coolray.
The Trojans lost to a powerful Cartersville squad in 2013 in their first-ever foray into a state title series. They captured their only state title in 2017, beating Pierce County in the Class 3A series in Savannah.
Much like that 2013 team, the 2021 squad came into the season long on talent but short on experience due to the lost 2020 season. However, similar to the 2017 team, the current roster also has been together as a group for nearly a decade and has been around a program that has become one of the state's most consistent winners.
AccessWDUN's Jeff Hart and Seth Chapman spent an afternoon with the Trojans as they prepare for the Lions, who are making their first-ever trip to a state finals.
(Click play above to see the video preview.)
CLASS 3A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
NORTH HALL vs. FRANKLIN COUNTY
-- WHEN: 6 p.m. (DH), Saturday
-- WHERE: Coolray Field, Lawrenceville
-- FRANKLIN COUNTY (35-3): Region 8-3A champion; defeated Appling County 2-1 and 1-0 in the semifinals
-- NORTH HALL (31-5): Region 7-3A champion; defeated Ringgold 10-2 and 3-1 in the semifinals
-- NOTABLE: It’s a classic final as the Trojans were ranked No. 1 in the final regular season Georgia Dugout Club poll while Franklin County was ranked No. 3. ... North Hall is looking for its second state title in four years (2017) and are into the championship series for the third time since 2013. ... The Lions are making their first-ever appearance in the championship series. They lost to North Hall in a two-game sweep in 2013 in their only other playoff matchup going back to 2011. ... Franklin County led 3A in wins (27) at the end of the 2021 regular season while North Hall (23) was tied for third-most. ... The Lions have not dropped a game in the 2021 playoffs with four consecutive sweeps over Westminster, Sonoraville, Long County, and Appling County to get to the finals. They have won 17 straight going back to a 4-0 loss to Hart County on April 2. ... The Trojans have had the much tougher road taking on No. 10 Hart County, who was ranked No. 1 much of the season, No. 6 Pierce County, and No. 2 Ringgold in the last three rounds. The Lions did not face a ranked team in any of the first four rounds. ... Franklin has gotten here with its pitching, led by Kayne Jinks (13-0, 0.82 ERA, Region 8-3A Pitcher of the Year), Lawson Gailey (12-1. 0.63 ERA) and Miles Dodd. The Lions sport a 1.06 team ERA and have struck out 359 (9.4 Ks/game) with only 87 walks (2.2 BBs/game) and have given up just 77 runs (2.02 rpg) on the season and since giving up 7 vs. Westminster in the opening game of the playoffs, they have allowed just 7 total runs over their last seven playoff games. They also are averaging 7.44 rpg on offense with .315 BA for the season. They have 9 HRs by eight different players and, much like North Hall, use small ball with 56 sacrifices on the season. ... North Hall is yielding 2.50 rpg on the mound behind Jaret Bales (11-1, 1.65 ERA, 76.0 IP, 69 K, 27BB) and Eli Reece (7-2, 2.14 ERA, 65.0 IP, 63K, 29BB) but has been even better in the playoff giving up just 2.33 rpg. The Trojans are averaging 7.41 rpg on offense behind Jay Johnson, (.390BA), Jace Bowen (.339 BA, 35 RBI, 40R), and Bales (.333 BA, 2 HR, 36 RBI).