Published: Apr 09, 2012 07:04 PM
Modified: Apr 10, 2012 09:35 AM
HILLSBOROUGH - Cary baseball coach Brian Yerger never saw four teenage boys charging at him, but he felt the chilling repercussions as he was blindsided by the two full Gatorade coolers that came splashing over his shoulders Saturday night.
Nobody saw Cary coming either, at least nobody in the Hilltop Invitationals eight-team American division. In a field that included two teams ranked in the N&O top 12, including one undefeated team, the Imps had the worst overall record at 3-9.
But the Imps took home the Hilltop trophy after doubling their season win total with upsets of both N&O-ranked teams and a walk-off victory against Burlington Williams in the championship hosted by Orange High School.
The Imps defeated East Chapel Hill 8-1, handed South Granville its first loss of the year with a 2-0 victory, then handed Williams a 13-12 loss in a wild finale to the tournament.
We were more than prepared to come and play in this tournament, and it showed. Day in and day out, we play against tough competition, said Yerger said. I just felt like the last couple of weeks we were close to turning the corner, and hopefully this is what it is.
In Saturdays championship game, pitching was at a premium.
Carys Ben Kerner had gone the distance against East Chapel Hill, and Tony Sanchez had done the same against South Granville.
Williams was also hurting for healthy pitchers, but they just happened to show that earlier in the game than Cary.
Cary opened up a 6-0 lead after two innings and appeared to be headed for a comfortable title victory. But that changed in the top of the third when Williams (11-4) brought up 17 batters, grinded out nine hits and scored 11 runs.
That still wasnt enough run support, as the Imps tacked on six more runs in the bottom half to take a 12-11 lead.
We all hit the ball well, from top to bottom, Kerner said. It was the most fun game Ive ever played in.
The next three innings went by with just one run between them.
After getting out of the top of the seventh with two runners on, the Imps got a leadoff walk by left fielder Grant Hayes. He was caught stealing two batters later, and the Imps were down to their final out.
Carter Coles chopper to shortstop was misplayed, and the Imps had the winning run on first once again. This time, David ODonnell lifted a shot down the right field line that dropped in just past a diving Williams outfielder.
By the time the ball hit the ground, the pinch runner was rounding third. It was ODonnells fourth RBI of the night.
I saw it coming outside a little, and I just took it with me. I just wanted to hit it down the line where that guy was playing off the line a little bit, ODonnell said. I thought he was going to get to it at first. I thought he had a bead on it. I saw him dive and the ball hit the ground it was crazy.
The non-conference wins help bring Cary closer to .500, which will be important if the Imps want to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Ive been on the varsity for four years, and weve been in last place for four years, said Sanchez. Weve got like, what 11 games left? We can make the playoffs. I just want to make the playoffs my senior year.