The Northwestern Trojans staged a massive fifth-inning rally with eight runs to defeat the River Bluff Gators 10-4 Tuesday night at Northwestern and force a winner-take-all deciding game three Saturday night at Blythewood High School.
Game time will be 7 p.m. The Gators won game one 4-3 in 10 innings.
The Trojans had come unraveled in the top of the fifth with two errors and two wild pitches, which helped the Gators break a 1-1 tie and take a 4-1 lead. Only one of the runs in that inning were earned.
"We kind of lost our focus in the fifth," said Northwestern coach Mitch Walters. "I told them 'boys you've got nine outs left. You can play 'em or sit over here and sulk.' And they got after it and finally swung the bats. I wish we could've had some of those hits Saturday night when we left so many on."
River Bluff had one hit in the inning. Before the fifth, Trojan pitcher Rob Hughes had retired 10 straight.
In the home half, Northwestern batted around and totaled seven hits. The big one was a two-out bases loaded by Will Hagood that scored three runs and made it 8-4. Two of the baserunners had been intentionally walked by the Gators. Five of the runs in the inning were scored with two outs.
"Will has a good at-bat every time, especially in pressure situations," said Walters. "He just tries to barrel something up. We got some two-out hits tonight. We had zero Saturday night."
Each team scored one in the first inning. Stephen Kight had an RBI-base hit for River Bluff in the top half and Jeff Taylor singled in Jordan Starkes, who had led off with a single to right for the Trojans.
Hughes went five innings and allowed four runs, two earned, on three hits, three walks, and three wild pitches to get the win. He struck out two. Wesley Sweatt struck out three in two innings.
Hagood, Brandon Ashley, and Andrew Shipman were all 2-for-3. Hagood had three RBI, and Ashley and Shipman each had one. All three players had a double.
Northwestern 10 River Bluff 3
Rob Hughes and Wesley Sweatt. Ricky Williams, Stephen Kight, and Hunter Garris. WP - Hughes. LP - Kight. Leading hitters: NW - Will Hagood 2-3, 2B, 3 RBI; Brandon Ashley 2-3, 2B, RBI; Andrew Shipman 2-3, 2B, RBI. RB - Aaron Adams 2-4, 2B, RBI.