Sunday July 21st, 2024 11:40AM

Playoff baseball: Brooks dominates as North Hall, Appling Co. head to Game 3

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

GAINESVILLE — When they needed him most, Hunter Brooks delivered.

The senior right-hander stymied a potent Appling County offense, limiting the Pirates to just three hits in a 4-0 win to even the two teams’ Class 3A second round series on Wednesday at Cottrell Field.

Appling County won the opening game, 6-4 in 9 innings, to put the defending 3A state champion Trojans (29-5) on the verge of elimination. They will decide the best-of-three series on Thursday at Cottrell Field. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.

“I felt like that was one of my better games this season,” Brooks said. “I just wanted to go out there for the guys behind me and give us a chance. We kind of thrive on the pressure.”

Brooks got an early boost from Jaret Bales, who drilled a long two-run home run in the first inning for a quick 2-0 lead.

“Hunter just did what he’s done all year. He did a great job of commanding the strike zone. He’s really grown up a lot,” North Hall coach Trevor Flow said. “To come out in Game 2 and get a huge hit early was big for us.”

The Game 2 loss for the Pirates (18-8) was their first shutout loss of the season.

In Game 1, Appling led 4-0 early before North Hall rallied to tie the game in the seventh. Appling scored twice in the top of the ninth to win it.

Game 1: Appling County 6, North Hall 4

North Hall trailed 4-0 early before starter Bales found his groove. The senior right-hander went 7 2/3 innings, allowing 8 hits while striking out a career-high 16 batters. But it wasn't enough as Appling County (18-7) scored twice in the top of the ninth off reliever Baker Dyer.

The Pirates took advantage of a rare North Hall error to go with a RBI double from Patrick Crosby to take a 1-0 in the first inning. They added on in the third with another run on a RBI double from Dawson Griffis for a 2-0 lead. In the fourth, Greyson Hall and Dayson Griffis had two-out, RBI hits to make it 4-0.

Meanwhile, Pirates’ starter Dayson Griffis settled in, retiring 8 straight at one point with a no-hitter into the fourth. The Trojans finally got the bats going with one out in the fourth.

Jace Bowen ended the no-hit bid, beating out an infield hit and Bales followed with a single to left. After a double steal, however, both were left stranded in scoring position.

North Hall finally broke through in the fifth, loading the bases with one out. Bowen brought in Hunter Brooks on a walk and Bales got hit on the next pitch to bring in Hudson Barrett to cut the lead to 4-2. That knocked out Dayson Griffis, who lasted 4 2/3 innings surrendering five hits and two runs but struck out six. But they left the bases loaded as Crosby came in to get Bradford Puryear to pop to second to end the inning.

The Trojans scored twice in the seventh to send the game to extra innings on a RBI double from Bales and a RBI single by Luke Erickson. But the Pirates gunned down a runner at third to end the inning.

Appling’s Collin Ewaldsen stifled the North Hall bats in extra innings, fanning three and retiring the final six batters faced to get the win.

Game 2: North Hall 4, Appling County 0

North Hall quickly grabbed its first lead of the series on a two-run home run from Bales in the first. After that, the Pirates’ Harrison Simmons and Brooks took control.

After Bales’ blast, Simmons set down 13 of the next 15 North Hall batters through the fifth inning, allowing just a Bales double in the fourth. Brooks matched him, retiring 17 of the final 20 Appling batters after a second-inning walk to Jack Coleman.

Brooks also got two tremendous defensive plays from Bowen at shortstop to end both the fifth and sixth innings to keep the Pirates scoreless.

The Trojans gave Brooks more of a cushion, scoring twice in the sixth on a wild pitch and a RBI single from Puryear.

Brooks went the distance, scattering three hits and three walks and striking out five.


2nd ROUND BASEBALL PLAYOFF SCORES
(All series are best-of-3 at home of higher seed)

WEDNESDAY, MAY 4

Class 4A
LaGrange 7, Flowery Branch (LaGrange wins series 2-1)

Class 3A
Appling County 6-0, North Hall 4-4 (Series tied 1-1)
Cherokee Bluff 14-2, Pierce County 4-3 (Series tied 1-1)

Class 2A
Vidalia 12-13, Banks County 2-1 (Vidalia wins series 2-0)

Class A Public
Commerce 6-1, Irwin County 5-14 (Series is tied 1-1)


TUESDAY, MAY 3

Class 6A
Buford 7-14, Glynn Academy 3-0 (Buford wins series 2-0)

Class 4A
Flowery Branch 2-6, LaGrange 6-3 (Series tied 1-1)


2nd ROUND BASEBALL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
(All series are best-of-3 at home of higher seed)
(Game 3s start at 5:55 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

THURSDAY, MAY 5

Class 3A
Appling County (R1, S2) at North Hall (R7, S1) (Game 3), 4 p.m.
Cherokee Bluff (R7, S2) at Pierce County (R1, S1) (Game 3), 4 p.m.

Class A Public
Irwin County (R2, S2) at Commerce (R8, S1) (Game 3), 2 p.m.

(Area teams listed in BOLD)

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