Newton's no-hitter draws Thomas Heyward even in SCISAA 2-A championship series

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comMay 14, 2013 

Before he threw a no-hitter Tuesday, Zack Newton sent a group text message.

The Thomas Heyward Academy senior wanted to know what his senior baseball teammates would do if their SCISAA Class 2-A baseball championship series with Holly Hill went to a third and decisive Game 3 on Thursday, when the senior class was supposed to embark on a cruise to the Bahamas.

The consensus came back. Just about everybody was on board for a chance to win a state title.

Those on the fence might have been strengthened by Newton's performance on the mound. The right-hander was perfect through five innings and faced the minimum number of Holly Hill batters during a run rule-shortened, 10-0 victory at Thomas Heyward.

"We were planning on winning (Monday's) game and then this one," Newton said. "That didn't happen, and that's when it hit us that we had a huge choice to make."

The victory evened the series after the Raiders came back to win Game 1 at home. The teams will play Game 3 on Thursday at Calhoun Academy in St. Matthews for the Class 2-A title.

The Rebels (18-6) are trying to win their first baseball championship since 1979.

Newton finished with 12 strikeouts. He hit James Shuler with a pitch to start the sixth inning, the only blemish, but catcher Evan Duncan erased the runner trying to steal third.

"All the credit goes to him," Holly Hill coach Michael Nelson said. "He kept us off balance at the plate, and we kind of just unwound at the seams tonight."

Newton asked Duncan before the game what he had seen Monday from the Raiders' lineup. He started with a steady helping of breaking balls and mixed it up as Holly Hill caught on.

"He said, 'I know what I'm going to do,' " Duncan said. "And his stuff was on today, so we just went right at them."

There was no threat. And the Rebels, who had won 12 consecutive games before the 4-3 defeat Monday, reverted to their bashing ways at the plate and aggressiveness on the bases.

Third baseman Seth Jones had three hits to help lead the way. Duncan doubled in a run during the final inning and scored the game-ender when Conner Driscoll reached on an error.

The 10-run outburst was more indicative of the Rebels' play this year, players and coach Nic Shuford agreed.

"I don't remember the last time they were held to three runs in a game," Shuford said. "They were determined to not let that happen again."

Shuford met with his seniors on the field Tuesday following the normal team chat. He checked their commitment to forgoing a senior trip for a chance at the state title.

"Now that we're really here, and we 10-run ruled them, I think it became a reality for everybody," J.D. Tuten said.

SCISAA Class 2-A baseball championship

Best-of-three, series tied 1-1

Holly Hill 000 000 X -- 0 0 4

Thomas Heyward 201 214 X -- 10 10 1

W: Zack Newton 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 12 K

L: Noah Cason 4 1-3 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 K, 1 BB

Top hitters: Thomas Heyward -- Seth Jones 3 for 4, RBI, 2 R; Evan Duncan 2 for 3, 2B, RBI, 2 R; J.D. Tuten 2 for 3, RBI, SB; Ryan Day 2 for 3, RBI, SB, 2 R.

SCISAA Class 2-A baseball championship

What: Thomas Heyward vs. Holly Hill Academy, Game 3

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

Where: Calhoun Academy, St. Matthews

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