RECAP: Mudd’s walk-off home run saves the day for Tiger Baseball
Tiger Baseball escaped to the semifinals of the Rawlings/KHSAA State Baseball Tournament with a 3-2 win over West Jessamine thanks to Sam Mudd’s walk-off home run.
For much of the game, the story was Adam Elliott’s outstanding pitching. Elliott threw 101 pitches on his way to a complete game victory as well as striking out nine Colt batters. 12 batters stepped up to face Elliott during the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th innings, and they all suffered the same fate; they were all sent back to the dugout without even sniffing first base.
“I was locked in from the very first pitch,” Elliott said. “I was throwing, two pitches were strikes, and I was locating real well. Throughout the whole game they worked and just getting the first strike was huge.”
Brandon Tucker and Chris Essleman gave Elliott some insurance runs in the bottom of the 2nd which were the only two runs for St. X until the seventh. Dalton Dedas singled to center field, and Tucker came on to run for the catcher. Chris Essleman would hit a single to advance Tucker to 3rd before Sam Mudd hit a beautiful sac bunt to score Tucker and advance Esselman. Zeke Porta reached on a fielding error, and Esselman scored the 2nd run of the day for the Tigers from second.
The second inning ended with Stephen Mitchell pop flying into a double play. St. X tried to hit and run, but Porta didn’t realize the ball was hit up into the air and kept running. The pop fly was caught and thrown to first to get Porta out. The double play ended the inning.
The Tigers put something together in the fourth, but they once again ran into some outs. Sam Hedges started off the inning with a single to 3rd base, but Dedas popped into a double play on the next at bat. St. X once again tried to hit and run, but by the time Hedges realized the ball was up in the air, he was already at second base and too far away to get back to first in time. Mudd and Esselman would hit back to back singles before Porta hit a high fly to center field to end the inning.
“That’s baseball,” Coach Andy Porta said. “It’s one of those things you start talking to yourself between innings where you ask yourself am I over coaching? Are you trying to do too much because the kids were hitting on their own. We were hitting singles right and were doing a good job. I was our own worst enemy. We were trying to create stuff and the two double plays killed us. They really did”
After retiring 12 straight batters, Elliott was going into the seventh with some momentum while West Jessamine was just trying to figure out how to get on base. Tucker Greer doubled down the left field line to start off the inning for the Colts, and Ryan Layne quickly followed up with a single. On the single, Greer was stuck running between 2nd and 3rd and somehow managed to get around the Tiger defense and reach 3rd base.
Coach Porta came to the mound wondering if he needed to make any adjustments.
“He asked me if I thought [Zeke] Porta should stay in,” Elliott said. “Yes, he definitely can stay in, and he just calmed us down a little bit. We got the job done, and we got the win.”
Seth Tayor singled through to the left side which brought home Greer and advanced Layne to 3rd. The next batter Spencer Blancet flied out to center field, and Layne tagged up and scored from 3rd. Elliott was able to control the rest of the inning, and the Tigers and Colts went to the bottom of the seventh tied at 2.
Going into the seventh inning, St. X could have crumbled and fallen but instead went out with a purpose.
“There was a new approach because there was a new pitcher,” Mudd said. “We were just hitting fast balls, taking them head on, swinging at big pitches inside the zone and anything outside of the zone to go and just get on base anyway you can.”
In the bottom of the seventh, Mudd stepped up to the plate to face the fourth pitcher for the Colts on the day, Greer. With 2-1 on the count, Mudd ripped off a walk-off home run to left field to win the game for St. X in what was only the 2nd home run of the whole tournament.
“I knew he was throwing a fast ball,” Mudd said. “I had seen three fast balls. I was pretty relaxed up there, not trying to do anything too big, and I saw a high inside pitch and just threw it to deep left field.”
His pitcher was pretty happy about that home run that clinched the win.
“For a little man, he’s got a lot of power,” Elliott said on Mudd’s home run. “I was sitting in the dugout, and I saw him hit the ball and everyone kind of went kind of quiet. I just saw the ball fly, and I knew it was gone. It was really just unbelievable.”
This was St. X’s first walk-off game winner in the State Baseball Tournament since June 4, 2013 when Andrew Hubb’s single brought home two runners on an error to defeat Logan County 2-1.
The Tigers will play next Friday in the semifinals of the Rawlings/KHSAA State Baseball Tournament against the winner of McCracken County and Johnson Central.