Despite winning 24 games during the regular season, Northwood Academy coach Jerry Stoots considers the Chargers the underdogs in their series with Hammond Academy.
Andrew Lockliear scattered five hits and struck out six batters and Billy Detyens collected two hits and drove in three runs to lead Northwood Academy past Hammond Academy, 9-4, in the third round of the SCISA baseball playoffs.
The Chargers (25-4) lead the best-of-3 series, 1-0, and can advance to the next round with a win over the Skyhawks today at 6 p.m. at Hammond.
“We’re tickled to death we can play with a team of Hammond’s caliber,” Stoots said. “They’re a quality team.”
After getting down early 1-0, the Chargers took control of the game with two big innings — scoring three runs in the third and adding six more in the fifth inning to take a 9-2 lead going into the sixth.
“You live with your pitching and pitching got Hammond in a little bit of trouble,” Stoots said. “It gave us some opportunities to hit ahead in the count and we got some clutch hits.”
Detyens highlighted a seven-hit performance from the Chargers.
After a single in the second, the freshman designated hitter had a two-run single in the third and then walked with the bases loaded in the sixth when the Chargers sent 10 batters to the plate.
“Billy hit the ball well today,” Stoots said. “Billy is only a freshman, but he’s probably been our most consistent hitter all season. He’s probably our best hitter average wise. He had some good at bats and got us on the board and gave us some breathing room.”
Lockliear wasn’t overpowering, but mixed up his pitches enough to keep the Skyhawk hitters off balance.
“Andrew gave us a good effort on the mound,” Stoots said. “They hit him a little bit, but Hammond is a good team and they’re going to do that. They’ve got some guys that can swing the bat. He got himself out of some jams and gave us a good six innings.”
The Skyhawks made things interesting with two runs in the sixth to close the gap to 9-4 with one to play.
Right fielder Ryan Trout entered the game with one out in the seventh inning with two runners on. Trout struck out McNair Coleman and got Michael Collins to ground out to end the game.
“Ryan did a great job closing the game out for us,” Stoots said. “He pitched on Friday and he had enough tonight to close out the game. It’s not over, Hammond is a good team.”