Fans often see sports stories that look like they have been ripped from a Hollywood script.
Sometimes they are too unbelievable even for a big-screen production.
Nearly 1,000 fans witnessed one of those stories Wednesday during Game 3 of the Class AAAA state quarterfinals between Evans and Etowah.
Before the game, Evans coach Ricky Beale wasn't sure whom he would start at pitcher. He had a number of capable choices: Brad Freeman, Josh Brodhecker, Kevin Millward or Zack Baker, who started Game 2.
But Beale went with senior Timmy Steflik.
For those who aren't familiar with Steflik's background, the senior injured his elbow in an April 2004 start against Cross Creek. He had elbow ligament replacement surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation, with plans to return sometime in the 2005 season.
As the start of the 2005 season neared, Steflik realized that he wouldn't be able to pitch until at least midseason. When Evans opened against Hephzibah, he hadn't even been cleared to throw breaking balls because of the torque on the elbow.
The senior pitched a few innings against Baldwin and Hephzibah, but his first start in more than a year came against Statesboro in the second round of the Region 2-AAAA playoffs.
Steflik was shelled, giving up six runs in the first inning.
But Beale had confidence in Steflik and threw him an inning and a third in Game 3 against Hardaway.
Beale gave the senior right-hander the call again Wednesday.
Because he didn't play varsity until his junior season, it was only Steflik's third start.
Steflik, who has signed with USC Aiken mostly because of his potential and his low-90s fastball, pitched brilliantly.
He got through the first inning and then the second, and the next thing you know, Steflik's got a two-hit shutout through six innings.
Before Wednesday, he had never pitched more than four innings in his life. He kept batters guessing all game and never allowed a runner past second base.
"I really started to settle down after the third inning," he said. "Then I felt like they couldn't hurt me."
Steflik - who touched 93 mph on the radar gun Wednesday - breezed through the sixth before allowing two hits to open the seventh inning.
When Beale came to take him out, Steflik received a standing ovation worthy of a professional athlete. Anybody who didn't get chills probably didn't have a pulse to begin with.
"That was incredible," Beale said. "That kid has gone through so much. That was a special moment."
Etowah scored six runs - including two charged to Steflik - to tie the game, which Evans won, 7-6, in the ninth inning.
The rest of the game really didn't matter.
For a teen who had his confidence shattered weeks before, he had to feel like he was on top of the world.
And with another star pitcher, Evans just became that much more dangerous.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.