By the time Reiley Henderson came to the plate for the second time in the seventh inning Thursday at Propstra Stadium, there really wasn’t any pressure.
If he got out, the game would just go into extra innings.
But if he …
… The Game Is Over.
Henderson jumped on the first pitch he saw and crushed a bases-loaded, ground-rule double, capping a six-run inning to give Skyview an improbable 6-4 win over Heritage in the championship game of the Class 4A District 4 baseball tournament.
“I asked (Coach Eric) Estes if I could go with the first pitch. He said, ‘Yeah, if it’s there, take a hack.’ It was right where I wanted it. I took a great cut and brought it home,” Henderson said.
As the No. 1 seed, Skyview will host Kentridge in a bi-district tournament opener. Heritage, the No. 2 seed, will open bi-district on the road.
It appeared it was going to be the Timberwolves who were going to knock off the 4A Greater St. Helens League champions, up 4-0 and cruising.
But not so fast.
“We just kept faith in ourselves,” Henderson said. “Four runs is not a whole lot for this offense.”
“That lineup, up and down, is stacked,” Heritage coach Mitch Ratigan said. “Not an easy out in that lineup.”
Curtis Perrin got a one-out single to get things started for the Storm. Jordan Freese followed with a base hit and Braydon Maney walked to load the bases. Alec Chaney followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-1, but with two outs.
Brian Valentine kept Skyview’s season alive with a run-scoring single to make it 4-2. James Brooks reached on an error, which loaded the bases, extended the inning, and, of course, extended the game.
Ian Hamilton got jammed and hit a dribbler to the left side of the infield.
“I was just thinking I need to get to first as fast as I could,” he said. “I had to get there, and get opportunities for my teammates.”
Hamilton beat the throw for an infield single, driving in the third run of the frame.
That brought up No. 9 hitter Avery Schmidt. The first two pitches were balls, followed by two strikes. Schmidt fouled off the fifth pitch. He then held off on two balls into the dirt, getting the walk to force in the tying run.
“You’ve just got to stay calm and let the pitches come,” Schmidt said. “Swing at anything close. Get on base and drive in that run any way you can.”
One pitch later, the ball soared over the center fielder’s head. The umpires ruled the ball bounced over the wall, although no one from Skyview saw that. By then, the Storm rushed the field and went after Henderson to celebrate.
Heritage’s Dakota Clevidence gave the Timberwolves a 4-0 lead with a two-run home run in the fifth inning. Simon Bos drove in runs with hits in the second and fourth frames.
Then it all went away for Heritage in the seventh.
“It’s baseball. Anything can happen,” Hamilton said.
“And it did.”