As preposterous as it may sound, walkoff steals of home plate are becoming a thing in prep baseball.
For the second time this spring, a high school baseball coach made a remarkably gutsy call, asking a runner to take off from third with two two outs in the decisive innning of a tied playoff contest.
Three weeks ago, Savannah (Ga.) Benedictine Military School senior Mike Huggins pulled off the rare walkoff steal of home in Georgia's Class AA state quarterfinals. This time around, Defiance (Ohio) Tinora High senior Logan Dickerson completed the feat in Ohio's Division IV state semifinals.
The game situation also made Tinora coach Brent Renollet's decision even more remarkable. While Benedictine coach Kevin Farmer's team was playing in the first game of a best-of-three series, Renollet's squad faced elimination. Sure, Tinora batter Renollet was behind in the count at 1-2, but the Rams had the bases loaded, meaning a wild pitch, a walk, a hit or an error of any kinds could have won the game.
Still, the Tinora coach gave Dickerson the go-ahead against Crestview southpaw Damian Helm, and the senior outfielder's collision knocked the ball from catcher Nate Owens' glove to ensure he reached safely.
“Coach asked if I could steal home, and I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll go home.' We had to win this game,” Dickerson told Ohio's Lima News. “I was running down to home, then I saw the catcher with the ball, and I thought he was going to get me. He had it in his hands, then he bobbled it. Then, I said, ‘Thanks.’"
That last bit had to hurt. Indeed, Owens reportedly remained on the ground for five minutes before walking off the field on his own volition. A veteran umpire comfirmed to the Lima News that the Crestview catcher's attempt to cut off the pitch before it reached home should have resulted in a balk anyhow, so either way they sliced it, Dickerson would have provided the walkoff run in a 4-3 victory.
Still, the call takes some serious cajones, especially when you consider TINORA ALSO SCORED THE TYING RUN BY STEALING HOME. Excuse the caps lock, but that's just ridiculous. In the sixth inning, the elder Renollet successfully called for senior Derek Drewes to steal home, resulting in a 3-3 ballgame.
As for the Crestview faithful, fear not, for you can rest easy knowing this was not the worst loss of the prep sports week. After all, a Montana softball team won a state title when the batter came all the way around to score on a dropped third strike by the opposing catcher. Now that hurts.
(h/t Busted Coverage)