Kyle Grimsley came to bat a little before 8 p.m. Saturday in search of his first hit after six plate appearances, with a heavy cloud cover making light scarce at Century High School’s baseball field.
Umpires discussed whether the 14th inning would be the last because of darkness. The Knights and visiting Glenelg were tied, daylight was in limited supply, and a horde of spectators watched from the baselines around the fence and beyond the outfield.
Century coach Chris Poe said he told Grimsley the first two strikes against Gladiators pitcher Zach LaFountain were for him to make contact, and the third for his teammates. Grimsley needed only one pitch to make contact — Century’s junior shortstop guessed fastball, and sent the freshman pitcher’s offering over the fence in right field to lift the Knights to a 3-2 victory.
The Class 2A West Region 1 championship game last more than 3 hours before Grimsley gave Century (9-2) a walk-off win for the ages. The Knights left 16 runners on base and threatened to end it in the 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th innings before Grimsley’s solo shot leading off the 14th.
He rounded the bases and touched home plate, then got swallowed a pack of teammates. Moments later, the sun broke free from the clouds along the tree line past left field.
“Definitely looking for the first pitch,” Grimsley said, his voice quavering. “He gave me a first-pitch fastball, [I was] just trying to square it up.”
Rose stood alongside Grimsley following the Knights’ postgame huddle and tried to come up with words to describe what they had just endured.
“Craziest game I’ve ever played in in my entire life,” said Rose, a senior, who had four hits, a home run, and two runs scored. “Honestly, craziest game ever. I’m still in shock that it went this freaking long.”
Glenelg ed 2-1 in the fourth inning after Andrew Johnson launched a solo home run into deep right-center. Johnson led off the frame against Century pitcher Ryan Perry, who came on in the third after starter Ethan Durborow tossed two innings. Perry settled in from there — the sophomore retired 20 of the next 23 batters and finished with nine strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings.
Fellow sophomore Brody Comer came in after that and struck out nine more over his 4 1/3 innings, including two against Johnson that had a pack of Century students riled up in the bleachers.
Glenelg (10-4) had its share of solid pitching performances as well. Starter Harrison Hobdy went six innings and fanned three, Spenser Flavin pitched three innings with four more strikeouts, and LaFountain entered in the ninth to help the Gladiators wriggle out of jams the rest of the way until Grimsley’s long ball.
“It’s June 12th, right? I mean, the seniors have graduated. You’re playing on a Saturday. Words can’t describe it, and I wish they were happier words,” said Gladiators coach Steve Tiffany. “You’ve got to tip your hat off to Century. It was one of the crispest high school baseball games. And we were playing with death for the last [few] innings. I give them credit, I thought [Perry and Comer] were studs, and they threw the ball well.”
Logan Pusheck added a home run for Glenelg, and Johnson had two hits.
Matt Guyer’s two-out double in the fifth brought Rose home and tied the game at 2-2, where it stayed for another eight innings. Grimsley listened to his coach as he led off the 14th and brought an abrupt end to a marathon in the making, which sent the Knights into the state quarterfinals.
“I’m not sure I really remember it at this point,” Grimsley said about his home run trot. “Everyone was just yelling and jumping everywhere.”
Glenelg 010 100 000 000 00 ― 2 7 0
Century 001 010 000 000 01 — 3 8 0
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G-Harrison Hobdy, Spenser Flavin (7), Zach LaFountain (9) and Gavin Henley; C-Ethan Durborow, Ryan Perry (3), Brody Comer (10) and R.J. Branch. 2B: C-Matt Guyer, Hunter Rose. HR: G-Logan Pusheck, Andrew Johnson; C-Rose, Kyle Grimsley. WP: Comer. LP: LaFountain.