Some teams just know when it's time to take a big risk in a critical game. One of those teams would certainly be Calallen (Texas) High School, winners of three state baseball titles and a favorite to make it to the Class 4A state championship this year. And with runners on the corners in the 10th inning against Mesquite Poteet (Texas) High School, they were only 90 feet from playing for their fourth state title.
All game long Calallan, who managed to pound Poteet for 13 hits, couldn't punch through and take the lead. So it figured it was time to take a gamble. As the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported, that's when Calallan's Eric Reddout, who was on first, tried a trick play you don't see every day.
"I was supposed to act like I was stealing, but trip and fall in the middle of the basepath," Reddout told the Caller-Times. "We hope he throws to first, and I'm going to get in a rundown."
Reddout went on the next pitch, and as scripted, Poteet's catcher Beau Nowell fired to first base. But instead of catching the Calallan runner in a pickle, the throw ended up just wide of first base and ended up in right field, thereby allowing the runner on third to score for a 6-5 Calallan victory. You can see video of the fake steal in the video directly below.
The funny thing is Reddout wasn't the only player willing to take a risk on the play. Calallan's Wyatt Matisen was already considering taking home when Nowell threw to first on the play.
"He threw it to first, and I was considering going as it was," Mathisen told the Caller-Times. "Once it got away, it was just relief and excitement. Those were the first two things that came to mind."
Yet, things didn't go as well in the state final, where Calallan fell one win short of the state title for a second straight season. In this case, Thursday night's 10-inning marathon may have been the decisive blow, too. Because Calallan used its top two starters during the dramatic victory, those starters were bypassed to begin the championship game the next day.
That left Scott Hill, the team's third starter, as the only option to take the hill for the start of the team's most important game of the season. He quickly allowed six runs to Wichita Falls (Texas) Rider High in just 1.1 innings, with Rider cruising to a 6-2 state title-winning victory as a result.
"Nobody had any idea (who would start)," Hill told the Caller-Times. "It was all up in the air. I'm sure the plan was for Mando to finish yesterday's game and for Wyatt to pitch this game like the (regional final against Moody). But yesterday, when we got in that bind and Wyatt had to relieve, it was kind of up in the air.
"They gave me the start and it didn't work out the way I wanted it to. (I was) just nervous and this atmosphere will really get to you. Whenever you don't throw strikes, you have no chance at all."
Some will debate the trick play was botched and doesn't really count. But considering the outcome on the play, it's hard to debate otherwise. Even if Nowell had nailed the throw to first, who's to say the runner sprinting for home wouldn't have turned the entire situation into utter chaos.
All the really matters is the crazy trick play worked, allowing Calallen to play for a fourth state title.
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