Going into the Greater Savanna League Championship game the set-up was a familiar one. McGregor and Floodwood met in the championship for the third year in a row and the fifth time in the last eight years, but there was something distinctly different about this meeting. It was the outcome.
Unlike in those previous four meetings, this time it was McGregor who came up with the clutch hitting to win in dramatic walk-off fashion by a final score of 6-5.
There wasn’t a whole lot of scoring early on in this one, as Floodwood tallied one run in the first inning as Tanner Heggedahl singled, stole second, advanced to third, and scored on passed balls. In the second, Floodwood added another run when Matt Zauhar led off the inning with a single and scored on Tanner’s second hit of the day. Floodwood added their third run in the fourth, when Tanner Heggedahl again singled, this time with two outs, and after his third stolen base of the day, scored all the way from second on a McGregor fielding error.
After a scoreless frame for each team, things started to get interesting.
In the bottom of the fifth McGregor had the top of their order up and did some damage. The inning started out innocently enough. Floodwood pitcher Mitchell Casper struck out the first McGregor hitter, but then the rally started. Joey Glunz was then hit by a pitch, and Chase and Cole Hoover followed up with back-to-back singles to left field to score one run. Carson Passer capped the rally with his own hit, a single to right, that scored both Hoovers and knotted up the score.
With the score tied heading to the sixth inning all of the pieces were in place for a dramatic finish, but the end result was even more dramatic than anyone could have hoped for.
Floodwood Tanner continued his amazing game by knocking out yet another single, giving him four on the game in his four at-bats, and later scored his third run on a hit by Mitchell. After Noah Thompson walked, putting Mitchell on second, Ricky Baker knocked in another run with a hit to left to give Floodwood a two run lead heading to the bottom of the sixth.
Looking ahead to their half of the inning, McGregor Coach Bryan Nistler commented that, “We needed the bottom of the order to do something, or we lost.”
They certainly did something.
Alex Nistler led off the inning by being hit by a pitch, but Mitchell then got Cole Gelhar to strike out looking to bring his team only two outs from their third straight championship. That was the last out Floodwood would record, however, as the next batter, Johnny Huspek walked prompting a pitching change for Floodwood.
Ricky came on to pitch, and after giving up an RBI single to Tommy Scollard, got a come-backer to the mound, but the throw to third to get the lead runner was bobbled to load the bases.
Chase Hoover then came up to the plate, making his last little league at-bat a memorable one by knocking a base hit down the third base line to score two runs and, thus, ending the game victoriously for McGregor.
Brian was quick to praise his squad after the win saying, “The kids played an awesome game. It was just a great little league game.”
Even so, McGregor may have been a year earlier than they expected to be at this point, as they will be returning seven starters next year.
Bryan noted that the two players too old to play next year, Chase Hoover and Tommy Scollard, will be greatly missed as they provided good leadership for the team.