Grayson Hall pitched a five-hitter last Thursday, leading 28th-seeded Smoky Mountain into the third round of the state 2-A baseball playoffs with a 5-1 win at 12th-seeded North Surry.
Hall gave up three hits and a run in the first inning. He didn’t allow another hit until the seventh. He walked one and struck out five. At one point he retired 12 straight batters.
“You’ve got to give Grayson credit,” Coach Jeremy Ellenburg said. “He was phenomenal. He gave up a run in the first and was lights out the rest of the game. He threw strikes.
“Our scouting report was that they try to pull everything so we needed to stay away and pitch backwards,” Ellenburg added. “As soon as I learned that I knew Grayson was a perfect candidate for that game. That’s what he’s done all year.”
The Mustangs (13-9) did not commit any errors. The coach said the entire team played well defensively. He singled out shortstop Dawson Karup for some “great plays.”
Emmitt Baldwin, Jacob Frizzell, Jameson Madden and Cody Lominac all had two hits for SM.
Conner Seagraves singled in his only official at-bat. He also was hit by a pitch and had two sacrifices.
Baldwin singled to start the game, moved up on Seagraves’ sacrifice and scores on James Hinson’s double.
The Greyhounds tied it on an RBI single by Chris Swartz in the bottom of the first. The Mustangs took a 3-1 lead in the third. Again, Baldwin led off with a single and advanced on Seagraves’ sacrifice. Frizzell had an RBI single with two out. He stole second and scored on Madden’s single.
SM picked up a pair of insurance runs in the seventh for a 5-1 advantage. Seagraves singled, James Hinson was hit by a pitch and Frizzell walked to load the bases. Madden had a sacrifice fly, and Lominac followed with an RBI single.
“I felt if we could jump on them we could put some pressure on them,” Ellenburg said. “The guys are playing with a purpose now.”
Swartz started and took the loss. He also had two hits.
This was the second straight game that the Mustangs had gone on the road and beat a higher-seeded opponent.
“It doesn’t matter what seed you are,” the coach said. “You get in the playoffs, and everyone is on the same playing field.”
SM wins opener
The Mustangs opened the playoffs with an 8-3 win May 7 at fifth-seeded Mount Pleasant.
“We knew some things we needed to do going into the game,” Ellenburg said. “I had a good scouting report on them. We had some timely hits with runners in scoring position.”
Baldwin had two hits for SM.
Frizzell (4-3) was the winning pitcher with Hall picking up the save.
“Jacob threw well, and Grayson was lights out to finish the game,” Ellenburg said.
Frizzell was what the coach called “effectively wild” as he walked seven in four and a third innings He gave up five hits and struck out six.
“It keeps hitters off balance and you get hitters sometimes chasing those pitches that aren’t strikes but are close,” Ellenburg said.
Hall pitched two and two-thirds shutout innings for the save.
“We got some bunts down that helped score some runs,” Ellenburg said. We were able to manufacture runs or get big two-out hits to score five of our runs.”
The Tigers struck first when Will Gray hit a two-run homer in the opening inning.
The Mustangs responded with three runs in the second to take the lead for good. Madden. Lominac and Bengie Dillard singled to load the bases, and Karup walked to force in a run. Dustin Stephens drove in a run with a fielder’s choice. The other run scored on an error.
They made it 5-2 in the third. Hinson and Frizzell walked to begin the inning. After a fielder’s choice, Lominac had a sacrifice fly. Another run scored on an error making it 5-2.
Hinson doubled, and Frizzell was hit by a pitch in the fifth. Following a fielder’s choice, another sacrifice fly by Lominac extended the margin to 6-2.
Mount Pleasant scored on an error in the sixth leaving the deficit 6-3.
After an error and a pair of ground outs, Stephens scored on a passed ball for a 7-3 advantage.
SM’s final run came in the seventh. Lominac walked, moved up on Dillard’s sacrifice and a fly out and scored on Stephens’ single.
Brett Laws had two hits for the Tigers.
Jaylen Love started and took the loss.
The Mustangs were scheduled to play Tuesday at 13th-seeded West Lincoln in the third round. For results, see article on page 3A.