Talk about snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. The odds of a triple play are long. Just ask Atherton (Calif.) Menlo High baseball coach Craig Schoof, who had never seen one in his 27 seasons at the helm.
The odds of a triple play ending any game are roughly somewhere between a kajillion and a bazillion to one. The chances a triple play an elimination playoff game on a game-saving catch? Pretty much infinite.
Yet, with the bases loaded in the seventh inning of a 2-1 California Central Section first-round playoff game, Menlo shortstop Mikey Diekroeger's diving catch robbed San Bruno Capuchino counterpart Kyle Patterson of a game-winning single up the middle. Diekroeger then doubled off the runner at second and threw to first to complete the triple play and send his team to the quarterfinals.
As Menlo celebrated, a stunned Capuchino coach Matt Wilson argued the call to no avail.
“The ball hit the ground,” Wilson told the San Mateo Daily Journal. “I saw the ball hit the ground. That’s why our (base runners) went. … Everyone saw it. And that’s fine. I don’t want to take anything away from (Menlo). They won the game. Their pitcher did a great job keeping us off balance. It shouldn’t have come to that. But at the same time, it didn’t feel like it’s the way the game should have ended.”
Diekroeger, a Stanford-bound senior whose catch kept his prep career alive, would have none of that.
"There wasn't a doubt I caught the ball," Diekroeger, whose low throw to first nearly allowed the tying run to score, told the San Jose Mercury News. "I wasn't expecting a triple play. All they needed was a hit to win it. When the ball came, I knew I had, at least, two. I thought there was a play at third. Then I saw the guy at first was halfway to second, so, luckily, I threw to first and (Rylan) Pade made a play for us."
Even better, Diekroger's snag has prolonged his coach's tenure. According to The Daily Journal, Schoof announced his plans to retire following the end of this season. First, though, he'll continue chasing a sixth Central Section title, as his 12th-seeded Knights won the next round to reach Tuesday's semifinals.
Just don't count on another triple play to get them out of a playoff jam again.