OZARK, Mo. — Willard Baseball claimed not only the first baseball title in school history Saturday, but the first boys title of any sport for the school behind a 9-8 walk-off win over Grain Valley in the Class Five Championship.
The Tigers jumped ahead quickly, scoring in each of the first four innings on their way to a 7-2 lead.
Never one to make it easy on themselves, though, Willard then gave up six unanswered runs including four in the 5th and two in the 6th for the Eagles first lead at 8-7 heading into the 7th.
Willard, with just three outs between them and a heartbreaking defeat, refused to go home with anything less than the 1st place trophy.
Senior Andrew Friend delivered the tying run in the bottom of the 7th with a base hit to left, bringing Cooper Hampton home to knot the game back at 8-8.
But the hero of the day tag went to Kyden McMain.
With the bases loaded on two outs, the sophomore delivered the title-winning single to right field bringing Kade Biellier home for the walk-off state championship win, 9-8.
“We’ve never won a state championship here,” McMain said “Doing that, and doing that for our seniors after all the adversity we faced and all we’ve been through to get here, that was pretty cool.”
“First at bat gets a triple. Second at bat, the coach pinch hits for him. That says something,” Willard Head Coach Scott McGee said about McMain’s heroics. “Third at bat to still have the confidence to come up and have the game winner, it’s unbelievable what he did today.”
“It’s been a goal of ours to prove all the people who kind of thought this was going to be a down year wrong, and it just feels great,” Willard senior pitcher Gavin Burk said.