North Cobb was the winning team in the one of the wackiest endings to a baseball playoff series in years.
Avery Cross had a walk-off hit-by-pitch plate appearance with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh in a 12-11 win over Grayson in Saturday’s deciding game of the best-of-3 series in the first round of the Class AAAAA playoffs.
“It was really pretty wild — I’ve never seen anything like it,” North Cobb coach Tom Callahan said.
The two teams combined for a dizzying display of belated offensive firepower, combing to score a total of 15 runs over the game’s final two innings.
With North Cobb (20-9) trailing 11-10 in the bottom of the seventh, the Warriors loaded the bases with one out. Grayson coach Seth Rhine tried some creative strategy, instructing one of his outfielders to go to the infield to play defense. Rhine then told all five infielders to play close to the grass, making it easier for a force out at any base.
Unfortunately for Grayson, the ball was never put into play, as relief pitcher Austin Miller hurled an inside fastball that struck the thigh of Cross, the North Cobb batter.
“It was kind of an unorthodox way to win,” Cross said. “I really had no idea we had won for a few seconds there. It took a few seconds to register.”
Callahan, watching from the dugout, also had a delayed reaction before finally acknowledging what had materialized. The North Cobb players celebrated wildly after the emotional playoff win on the road.
“I was hoping to get that ball into the jet stream and that we would get a sacrifice fly out of the situation with only two outfielders,” Callahan said. “But anyway you can do it, you do it. And we’ll take it any way it comes. It was rather unusual.
“It was pretty fitting (ending) for a pretty unusual ballgame.”
The ending spoiled an impressive comeback for Grayson (14-15). The Rams blew a three-run lead in the sixth, but rallied again for an 11-10 lead with three outs to go. It was a roller coaster of emotions for both teams over the final two innings.
“I’ve had games where every pitch mattered, but those were 2-1 or 4-3 ballgames,” Callahan said. “One like this, I really didn’t know what to expect. I started looking down at my book with my pitching staff, getting ready for the 14th or 15th inning, because that’s the way this game was looking like it was going to go.”
YOUR TURN: What is the wildest finish to a high school baseball game that you’ve ever seen? Preferably a playoff game, but any game is fine. Please post your story below.