Wildcats rally from 5-0 deficit to victory
Westview pours across nine runs in the last four innings to win it
KEIZER - Westview was dead in the water.
Down 5-0 to Central Catholic three innings into Saturday's Class 6A state championship baseball game at Volcanoes Stadium, the Wildcats had managed just two hits and three baserunners, and hadn't gotten any of those runners beyond second base.
The Westview defense wasn't faring particularly well either, with starting pitcher Sam Johnson giving up four hits and three earned runs, while the Cats' 'D' committed three errors and also saw the Rams steal two bases.
But the Wildcats, a senior-laden team that went 66-6-1 from the end of the 2010 spring season through Saturday, knew they were still alive.
More than that, they knew they were still going to win.
'Even after we went down 5-0, the first thing I said when I came in the dugout - and every other senior said - was this wasn't going to happen,' said senior right fielder Tate Glasgow. 'We've done this before.'
'We were down 5-0. We had a lot of down spirits in the dugout, but we had to get back up,' said senior designated hitter Ryan Susnow, who had one of his team's five home runs in the victory. 'I looked up at the scoreboard and said 'Let's go right here. These guys are nothing.''
Glasgow and Susnow's words proved prophetic - the Wildcats hammered five home runs and poured across nine runs in the game's final four innings and used that offensive deluge to forge its 9-6 victory and the first state baseball championship in Westview's 17 years.
Central Catholic's fast start, though, made everyone of the Westview side of the stadium plenty nervous for what felt like a very, very long time.
The Rams got back-to-back RBI doubles in their two-run first inning, then took advantage of two Westview errors, two steals, a run-scoring triple and a sacrifice fly in a three-run third that extended their lead to 5-0 almost halfway through the game.
Still, the Wildcats believed they could - and would - rally to victory.
'It wasn't good,' said Westview coach Steve Antich. 'Going down 5-0 to them wasn't how we had it drawn up, but we knew we could climb back.'
And come back they did. The Wildcats came back like nobody else in the state could come back, getting a Johnson homer in the fourth, homers from Glasgow and Carson Kelly in the fifth, another bomb from Ryan Susnow in the sixth, and finally a three-run shot from Johnson that won the game in the top of the seventh.
'We just had to get that one run across, and we knew that once we got one or two runs across that we'd just keep rolling,' senior outfielder/pitcher Phil Belding said.
'Once we got our offense going, there was no 'D' for that,' said senior second baseman Donnie Bradley
'We were down in the beginning but we just kept fighting and kept fighting and it ended up going our way,' Kelly said. 'I'm proud of our guys. I love 'em all.'
'I knew we were going to come back with the bats,' Johnson added. 'Our team can put up runs like crazy, so we knew were going to make a run back … and we came back and ended up winning.'