State championships....arguably the state's signature rivalry....one team the two-time defending state champion, down by a run, one out away from going down to defeat in the first game....extra innings. Nobody on base.
With the Rams' boots on their necks, the Hawks suddenly found a way. Three batters later, the game was over.
Amazingly, just seconds before the final pitch of the game was delivered, fireworks could be seen out beyond left-center field.... ....and then this happened -
The game was, quite simply, everything that a fan would expect of a LaSalle-Hendricken championship series.
As far as Network coverage was concerned, the crew was up in the booth and in the stands - Stone Freeman, Cam Brennan, and Zach Johnson handled the delayed audio play-by-play and analysis, as Cox Cable owns the rights to the series and had the game live on local television. The crew worked in a high-end, professional atmosphere along with all the other members of the media who were on hand.
Fans can still listen to the entire game below.
In addition to the fact that it was just an unbelievable game, last night was just a perfect night for baseball. Between the weather and the view from the press box, it was an incredible experience.
For about the first half of the game, the Hawks' Mike McCaffrey and the Rams' Tyler Schemick more or less kept the opposing offenses at bay. By the fifth inning, the Hawks had a 2-1 lead, but that precarious lead was largely due to two consecutive errors committed by the Rams' infield. The Maroon plated four runs in the top of the fifth and took what seemed to be - given the feel of the game to that point - a commanding 5-2 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, however, the Hawks struck right back, putting across the three tying runs. From there the two rivals matched one another, key out for key out, until the Rams scored what most in McCoy Stadium figured to be the winning run in the top of the eighth.
And then, in the bottom of the eighth....fireworks.
Offensively, the Hawks' 2,3,& 4 hitters - Ryan Rotondo, Gian Martellini, and John Toppa - kept our guys in the game when they most needed to, as the three were a combined 7-for-15 at the plate. In fact, it was Toppa's hit in the bottom of the eighth that won the game.
On the mound, starter Mike McCaffrey kept his team in the game over 4 1/3 innings of solid work, and he was followed by Christian Travers and Sam Boulanger. As the tension mounted toward the end of the game, it was Boulanger who bore the responsibilty to record key outs, and he did just that.
Game #2 is tonight - same place, same time - 6:30, at McCoy Stadium....
....and The Network will be there, high above the action on the field.
GAME #1 PLAY-BY-PLAY