Jack Wiggins walks it off against Halifax

May 1—HENDERSON — On Tuesday, the Kerr-Vance Academy Spartans pulled off a thriller: a walk-off double in the bottom of the final inning from Jack Wiggins to seal the game.

"I told him great at-bat," said head coach Mike Rigsbee. "It gave him some excitement — he needed it."

The walk-off came after the Spartans squandered a one-run lead heading into the final inning. They needed just one more out to seal the deal, but instead they let the Vikings tie it up and forced them to bat again. Luckily for KVA, Wiggins came through in the clutch, preventing extra innings.

The Spartans were locked into a contentious battle with the Halifax Academy Vikings from the first pitch. One visiting parent was even ejected after sounding off on the officials and was heckled by the KVA student section after he dropped some expletive-laced comments before ambling off.

"It's unnecessary, a lot of it," said Rigsbee. "I can't stress to my boys how important it is just to keep your mouth shut, but it was unnecessary for that guy to MF everybody as he was walking out."

The Spartans started with Tim Hudson on the hill, but following a few base hits and a mound visit, quickly replaced him with Nathan McDaniel. Rigsbee said since many of the ball players knew each other. The Vikings were used to Hudson and they had to "switch it up." The decision proved to be a wise one, as McDaniel got the best of the Vikings hitters, racking up 11 total strikeouts.

Subbed in during the second inning, McDaniel was immediately tasked with getting out of a jam with the game still scoreless. The lefty delivered with a slick strike, and then Hudson redeemed himself in the field by running down the runner on third on the double steal. Now only one out away, McDaniel conjured up a ground out to wiggle out of a tough spot.

In the third inning, a four-pitch walk from junior Landon Peoples forced the Vikings into a mound visit of their own. A wild pitch later in the inning meant runners on second and third, and a sacrificial ground out for KVA finally brought McDaniel home.

Back on the mound in the fourth, McDaniel put on another captivating inning of baseball. After a grounder was cracked into the infield, Hudson tagged the runner out trying to steal second. A ball was smacked into the deepest part of the field but was caught for an out before McDaniel made another batter whiff for a strikeout.

Sparked by the tenacity of their backup pitcher, the Spartans began to make contact with the baseball. The third baseline grass prevented a swinging bunt from spinning foul and put eighth-grader Thomas Wilson on first with Ayden Devine batting behind him.

With two runners on, the Spartans delivered with an RBI double from Wiggins to draw first blood, but a Hudson groundout stranded two runners in scoring position after they pulled ahead 1-0.

Still chugging away, McDaniel tallied another K to end yet another scoreless inning. Reaching third base safely in the next inning, the Vikings faithful bemoaned the call from the visiting bleachers as the umpire explained how McDaniel avoided the tag. The significantly sized home crowd cheered as Tanner Rigsbee batted in the second run and then again as a fielder's choice scored one more to make it 3-0.

Needing to rally with only six outs left, the Vikings mounted the beginning of a comeback in the top of the sixth with a pair of RBI singles to make it 3-2. Now with only a one-run lead, the Spartans turned to McDaniel again to lead them to victory. The young lefty stepped up to his calling, and the Spartans entered the final frame up one run.

In the top of the seventh, looking to secure the final out and end the ball game with the tying run only 90 feet away from home plate, the sophomore ace looked to the sky and took a deep breath.

Locked into a lefty-lefty battle, McDaniel wiped his face, kicked, and delivered the 2-1 pitch — into a ground ball RBI that tied the game.

But the Spartans weren't deterred by the hiccups in the last few innings. Instead, they put on their own rally caps and headed to the plate. Rigsbee hyped up his dugout after reaching first on a walk, and then Wilson fought off four pitches before grounding out to move the game-winning runner to second.

Then, ready for his moment to shine, Wiggins raked in the RBI double to score Rigsbee as the Spartans won in heroic fashion.