There truly is no better feeling than coming through in a clutch situation.
Augusta Christian fans and players piled on each other after defeating Wilson Hall on May 17 in Martinez to win the SCISA state championship.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Whether you throw the winning touchdown pass in the Super Bowl or you simply hit a big putt to win a $2 nassau, the feeling is the same: pure exhilaration.
Some people go through their entire life without being able to experience that feeling. That's too bad. But during the past couple of weeks, two of our county baseball standouts had that type of moment, one they are sure to remember as long as they breath air.
It was a moment where, for a small amount of time, they were the king of the mountain.
The great thing about each story is the fact that they were able to not only do something great for themselves, but also come through for their entire team, school and community. Man, how great that must have felt.
First was Wayne House's moment to remember.
Augusta Christian's third baseman had earned a reputation this season as a great clutch hitter. So who better to have at the plate with a state title hanging in the balance?
That is exactly what happened to the Lions in the decisive game of the SCISA state championship series. Trailing defending champion Wilson Hall 3-2 with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, House was at the plate.
So even when the count went 0-2, many ACS fans still had a feeling something big was about to happen.
Did it ever.
House nailed a fastball from Wilson Hall ace Matt Talley off the right field fence for a two-run single and a 4-3 win. To get a game-winning hit is big enough, but a walk-off two-run single to win a state title, it does not get any better.
Wayne House's name will forever be synonymous with "the hit." He is now part of Lion lore.
A few days later, the Evans Knights, in pursuit of state crown No. 6, played in the rubber match of a best-of-three series with perennial power Hardaway.
Evans was in dire straits. An early Knight lead had turned into a 10-6 deficit. Also, the Hawks had gone to their bullpen to bring in one of the state's top pitchers.
The situation was so grave, I had informed two buddies of mine that the Knights had been eliminated.
So imagine my surprise when I get a phone call about an hour later to inform me that Evans would be playing host to Etowah in the quarterfinals.
"Wait a minute," I asked, "you mean Evans came back?"
The Knights did just that. Somehow they had rallied for two runs and loaded the bases for junior standout Shawn Ward.
Ward, the Knights center fielder, has been hot of late, and head coach Ricky Beale had total faith that Ward would come through.
The youngster did not disappoint.
He drove a pitch into the gap in to send all three runners home and secure an 11-10 win and a series victory for Evans. Five runs in the bottom of the seventh on the road against the opposing team's ace is pretty unheard of.
However, sports, like no other aspect of our life, gives us these kind of improbable moments.
Like House, Ward will be talked about for years.
If somehow Evans is able to capture the title in Class AAAA, Ward's clutch hit will instantly become legendary (if it isn't already).
So congratulations to ACS and Evans, with a special nod to their heros of the day.
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