It's impossible to describe Westside's sweep of Pike County in the quarterfinals of the Class AA baseball playoffs Tuesday without abusing the last name Hall.
Older brother Brad went 4-for-5 in the opener and drove in four runs in a 9-8 extra-inning thriller. Chandler Hall, just a freshman, three-hit the Pirates in the second game for a 5-0 win to give the Patriots the best sort of plans for Memorial Day.
Westside (30-2) will either be in Metro Atlanta at Lovett or in Cook County for the semifinals.
Chandler Hall, just 14, struck out 11 members of a Pirates team who'd fit in at Muscle Beach.
"We call him a Momma's boy because he's young and never slides or gets dirty," Westside's Bradley Logan said.
That "Momma's boy" threw like a grown-up ace after the first inning. He had runners on second and third and the Pirates' Nick Pyron and Matt Carter coming up. The two have hit 21 homers this year.
That's when he saw mom.
"We talked about it after last game," Chandler Hall said. "She knows I can see her pacing around the crowd from the mound when I'm in trouble."
Cindy Hall knows the trick.
"He sees me pacing and knows he shouldn't make me worry," said Cindy Hall, his mother. "He's buckles down when he sees me."
Hall used a diet of knuckleballs to compliment his fastball. He breezed through Pike's power-lifters with command of a knuckler that constantly dove into the dirt. Hall allowed only five runners to reach the rest of the way in a three-hit gem.
"I'd never seen a knuckler before," Pyron said. "Much less one from a lefty. I saw one fastball from him. He did what he had to. He knew I couldn't hit it."
The Patriots took care of it with the bats from there. Logan drove in three runs in the 5-0 series-clinching win. He also threw 126 pitches and all eight innings in the first game to run his record to 10-0. Then, he caught seven innings for Hall in the second game.
"It really hasn't hit me," Logan said. "We're in the Final Four of the state out of so many teams. I can't believe how much these guys have grown together as a team."
Logan, whose stepmother is Cindy Hall's sister, had a time catching what the Pirates were swinging and missing at.
"It dances around," Logan said. "I just blocked it. Chandler kept throwing knucklers at any time in the count and getting strikes. It was tough to catch it, much less those guys having to hit it."
Hall's dominance sucked the drama out of series packed with spectacular defensive plays. Jason Knight's throw to an outstretched Steve Hardy took a hit away from Pike County.
Center fielder Logan Jackson threw out a runner at the plate who bowled over his catcher. Logan held onto the ball, spiking it in front of the plate, clearly caught up in the moment of playoff drama. Pike, however, committed nine errors in the series.
Freshman Sanders Cummings beat out a single in the bottom of the eighth to score Brad Hall for the win in the opener. It was another late rally for a team that's cornered the market on comebacks. The Patriots trailed 6-3 going to the bottom of the fifth in the opener, And 8-5 going to the bottom of the sixth.
"We don't get scared," Cummings said. "We play out the whole game before we think about getting down. We believe."
Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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