Title up for grabs Northwood forces decisive 3rd game for SCISA title

Northwood Academy players celebrate the go-head run in the top of the 10th inning against Pinewood Prep. Northwood held Pinewood Prep scoreless in the bottom of the 10th to win 2 to 1. (Brad Nettles/postandcourier.com) 5/15/12

SUMMERVILLE — Perhaps the most amazing thing about Ryan Trout’s 10-inning pitching gem Tuesday night against Pinewood Prep was that it almost did not happen.

The Northwood pitcher was brilliant — and durable — as he pitched the Chargers past the Panthers, 2-1, in the SCISA Class AAA State Championship Series to force a third and deciding game. He scattered five hits in 10 innings and didn’t allow an earned run while striking out 11.

Not bad for a player who injured his shoulder in football season and thought his baseball season was over before it began.

“I was supposed to have surgery,” Trout said. “But I started rehabbing it and began to long toss. I asked coach if I could throw in the bullpen and I felt no pain.”

The rehab took five months, but the effort will be remembered for a lifetime.

“I had to take a break the first half of the season, so it feels good to win a game like this. I threw my two-seam fastball and curve. I have a changeup, but they don’t really let me throw it.”

It was a long night for the Chargers, who had to wait out a 45-minute lightning delay before the first pitch was thrown, and then 10 innings.

It was an even longer night for the Panthers, who could have won their second state title since 2009 if they had a little more offense. Game 3 is tentatively set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Collins Park.

Pinewood starter Hayden Heflin pitched well, working eight innings. He gave way to Kyle Hair in the ninth. The Chargers got a run off of him in the top of the 10th when Tyler Gross reached on an infield single with one out and advanced to third on two wild pitches. Dalton Craven followed with a bloop single over a drawn-in infield to score Gross.

Then the Chargers had to survive the bottom of the 10th. Heflin walked and Brian Doucet hit the all into the gap in left center. Heflin tried to go to third, but left fielder Drayton Clutters’ throw to third was in time to nail the runner and end the game.

“That was a good play, a good throw,” Northwood coach Jerry Stoots said. “Ryan’s been outstanding during the stretch and tonight he really gutted it out. Tonight, he was able to pitch through some tough situations.”