Wilson Hall 9, Northwood Academy 1
Wilson Hall began the season as the state's top-ranked Class AAA baseball team in SCISA and cemented that ranking on Tuesday night, beating Northwood Academy, 9-1, to win the state championship series with a two-game sweep.
Senior left-hander Tyler Smith allowed only two hits and ran his record to 12-0 on the season. Last Friday, Smith tossed a one-hitter in a win over Pinewood Prep to advance his team to the championship series.
Northwood Academy lost in the state finals for the fourth consecutive season and finished the season with a 28-3 record.
"The better team won," said coach Jerry Stoots. "Without a doubt, Wilson Hall was the better baseball team. They are by far the best team we've played. They have an experienced group and they are talented. We haven't faced a team as good as they are in a long time. They deserve to win."
Northwood fell behind early as Wilson Hall scored three runs in the first inning with Tyler Pannell delivering the big blow, a two-run single with two outs.
That proved to be more than enough for Smith, who struck out two batters in the first and 12 for the game. Northwood managed a single by sophomore shortstop Devante Base and a sixth-inning RBI double by senior Ty Powell.
Wilson Hall added a run in the third on Smith's RBI double down the first base line. The Barons put the game away with five runs in the fourth, sparked by a three-run double from Gibson Klapthor.
"Falling behind three runs so early against a guy like Smith, I knew it would be tough," said Stoots. "He's as good as anyone we've seen. It's hard to bunch together hits and get any kind of rally going against him and that's what you need when you're down early."
While disappointed with the final results, Stoots says his 2011 team accomplished more than any of his previous teams.
With an entirely new starting outfield, a new catcher and a new shortstop, and with only one pitcher with significant experience returning, Northwood was picked to finish third in its own region and ended up with the region title.
"This team exceeded everyone's expectations, they really did," said the coach. "We had a good solid year, nothing real flashy. We had a lot of contributions from a lot of kids. We didn't have any dominating players but we had kids that played hard. I have nothing but praise for this team. We earned everything we got. We just ran into a team that was a lot better than us."