I admit it I am a baseball junkie. That’s the first step to admitting you have a problem, right?
I have been and always will be a baseball fan. I played the sport, I love everything about the sport, the strategy, the game within the game, the ups and downs. I am the guy that will go watch a little league game when I know no one at the field, I will watch at any time and any level.
In my 36 years I have seen some memorable games, the highs of covering a team at the College World Series, to watching a college buddy pitch in the big leagues and win rookie of the year, the low of getting double-dipped on Sunday when Omaha was knocking at the door.
This is my 12th baseball season at Hardin-Simmons and I have seen more than my share of improbable wins and comebacks, last-inning rallies. None of them compare to what I saw on Saturday night.
I don’t know where to begin. I don’t want to overlook the first game the Cowboys won but it is only going to get a brief mention. HSU forced the third and deciding game and then on four different occasions had to score or their season was over.
I am going to fast forward to the bottom of the ninth. The Cowboys were down three and had the bottom of the order due up. Austin Cantwell and Brian Blare each pinch hit and drew walks. After a strikeout, LeJuan Edwards doubles to right center to score a run and put the tying runs at second and third. After another strikeout, Brian Weeks comes up in what could be the final at-bat of his stellar career. He hit a high chopper to deep third, which I am fairly certain he would have beat out, but it went off the third baseman’s glove and two runs scored to tie the game.
Taylor Berlin hit a single to right and Weeks went to third. The first time the Cowboys have a chance to win the game, Troy Tarrant hit a grounder to third and the third baseman threw the ball away. But that game within the game I talked about, Brett Hightower the first baseman saved the season for MC when he made a full out dive and scoop of a low throw and held the bag all at the same time. If he doesn’t the game is over and the next four innings of emotional roller-coaster never happen.
Deficit No. 1 over came, chance to win No. 1 comes up short.
The 10th inning was scoreless for both teams. MC scored a run in the 11th and HSU added a run on a bases loaded walk. With just one out the chances for a win looked good, but an unfortunate pop up turned into a double play and we play on.
Deficit No. 2 over came, chance to win No. 2 comes up short.
In the 12th, MC scores a couple of unearned runs. HSU has the bottom of the order up again and Eric Zamora, who reached base three times in the game, led off with a hit. Blare beat out an infield single and then Jordan Dotson put down a perfect bunt that the third baseman turned into two runs with an errant throw to first. Dotson ended at third with no outs. Two intentional walks later and the bases are loaded for Weeks. He lined one to third and Brunson, the third baseman, turned it in to a double play. LeJuan is picked off third.
Deficit No. 3 over came, chance to win No. 3 comes up short.
On the 13th, MC scores two more. HSU scores a run on a bases loaded walk and then with two strikes and the bases loaded Troy Tarrant scored on a wild pitch. LeJuan, who was on base seven of the eight times in the game, strikes out on the next pitch.
Deficit No. 4 over came, chance to win No. 4 comes up short.
Four times the Cowboys score in random ways to tie the game and four times the Choctaws get an equally random play to keep the Cowboys from winning the game.
In the 14th, MC does not score and HSU puts the first two runners on. After a fly out, Troy Tarrant hits a ball off the wall in left that is almost caught. It wasn’t and after 37 players played, 500 pitches were thrown and 4:22 later the craziest game I have ever witnessed was over.
I will say the fans at Hunter Field, and it may have been one of the biggest HSU baseball crowds, got their money’s worth. I don’t think anyone that was there or the many more that watched it online could believe what happened. It was the most gut-wrenching game I have ever called.
I know this there were a bunch of players on both sides that put everything they had into the game. The naysayers on Division III Athletics needed to see this game. To see the pain and anguish on the MC players’ faces knowing their season was over, to see the looks of relief and disbelief on HSU fans and players alike to know they battled to keep the season alive, told the story better than I ever could have.
I must say congratulations to MC (or as we were reminded at least 1,000 times CHOC – TAWS) on being part of a game for the ages.
Now the Cowboys advance to the ASC Championship Tournament this weekend at UT-Dallas. The Cowboys will look to carry the momentum to their first ASC title. You can listen to the games on www.hsuathletics.com, beginning Friday at 3 p.m. against the Comets.
That wasn’t the only incredible game for HSU athletics last weekend. The Cowgirl and Cowboy tennis teams each came close to upsetting UT-Tyler in the ASC Tournament, the women in the semifinals and the men in the finals. The Cowboys made a run to the finals after rallying from a doubles deficit against Miss. College to make it to the finals. HSU took two of three doubles matches and split sets in three singles matches, before falling to the Patriots. Congrats to all of the seniors on great careers.
On Friday, the Cowgirl softball team beat UMHB 1-0 in the ASC Tournament. It was a gratifying performance as senior Megann Lewis threw a two-hitter and struck out 13. Also, four-year player Cera Beasley, who has battled shoulder injuries for two years and saw her playing time diminished, got the start in the game and got a hit and came around to score the only run in the game. It was a story of perseverance and the love of the game to keep going when giving up would had been the easy thing to do. Congrats to Cera and the other Cowgirls on a nice season.
The track teams also had a good performance at the ASC Meet. Maloree Kendall won the 1,500 and the steeplechase and was the high-point scorer of the meet. Branell Falcon won the hammer throw. Brendon Kelso had three fourths and a second in the four throwing events, despite an injured elbow. Both teams placed third.
As we come to the end of another season, when you see one of our student-athletes please tell them how much you appreciate all the work they do for our teams and how they represent our university. We truly have a bunch of special kids on this campus, and I consider it an honor to get to cover all of them.