Senior Kayli Worden’s great baseball moment capped the learning season for the Tech Titans. But the team effort throughout the game evoked Coach Mark Meinhofer’s praise, “This was the best performance I’ve seen out of you guys all season.” And another coach chimed in in the post game review, “You all stayed focused the whole game.” There was some trouble but no let down.
The top of the first looked bleak for the Titans as the Mustangs loaded the bases on a leadoff walk followed by two hit batters. Then a run scored on a fielder’s choice. But pitcher Matt O’Brien slammed the door shut on the Mustangs’ hope for the big inning as two swinging strikes closed two at bats and ended the inning with the Mustangs leading 1-0.
Cayden Thompson led off the bottom of the frame with a single and then stole second base. After Sam Morrow walked, O’Brien drove in Thompson with a single.
Ryan Nalducci singled to open the top of the second. Catcher Nathan Berniklau bunted back to the pitcher moving Nalducci to second on the sacrifice; he promptly stole third and then scored on a wild pitch. But O’Brien limited the damage by striking out the next two batters.
Titans’ Third Baseman Annie Brassfield opened the bottom of the second with a single and was moved to second by Fabian Garcia’s single. Mustangs’ Pitcher Joe Sartori left them on base as he induced the next batter to pop out to third.
Mustangs’ Shortstop Trent Free began the third with a double. O’Brien struck out the next two batters, looking to shut down the inning. However, Free stole third and First Baseman Tyler Cunha knocked him in with a single. Cunha moved to second on Andrew Kohler’s single, and they both moved up on a double steal. Nalducci worked a 2-2 count and then flew out to Garcia in left field.
Titan Devyn Still produced a two out hit in the bottom of the third but was stranded as the next batter grounded out to third base. O’Brien shutdown the Mustangs in the top of the fourth with a strikeout sandwiched between two infield outs.
Brassfield again opened the Titans’ at bat with a single, and she moved to second as Worden worked a full count to a walk. The bases were loaded when Cayden Thompson walked on another full count. Garcia picked up two runs batted in with his single.
Relief pitcher Gio Antonini shut the door on any more scoring as he struck out the next three Titan hitters who caused the pitcher to throw sixteen pitches. The score tied 3 to 3, O’Brien, at his best, tossed the shutdown inning of the season. With only six pitches, he induced three ground balls. Brassfield had one of those “look in your glove, it’s there” one hoppers and Thompson at short handled the other two grounders. The Mustangs’ reliever threw heat and Still drove one to centerfield in the Titans’ fifth but it was tracked down. The next batter struck out on five pitches. The Titans then worked three consecutive walks to load the bases with Brassfield at third, Worden at second, and Thompson at first. The pitcher expended twenty-two pitches up to that point but with the next five pitches doused the Titans’ hopes with a strikeout.
The Mustangs got one hit in each of the next two innings, but O’Brien’s two strikeouts and some good fielding left the Mustangs scoreless. Morrow’s throw to second produced a caught stealing while Thompson made two fine plays at short, and Andrew Campbell secured a fly ball hit to centerfield.
The stage was set for the Hollywood come back win of the season. Still worked a full count to a walk. Ben Petro laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt moving Still to second. Brassfield made contact on a two-strike pitch grounding out to short but moving Still to third. With two outs, with two strikes, Worden drove a single to score Still. The Titans defeated the highly favored St. Vincent Mustangs 4 to 3.
As Coach Meinhofer proudly stated, this was the best performance of the Titans’ season. Credit Matt O’Brien who threw 102 pitches, struck out nine, walked only two, scattered seven Mustang hits, and threw shutdown innings when needed. Credit the Titans’ hitters for being patient at the plate and causing the Mustangs’ pitchers to throw 139 pitches and surrender 7 walks. Credit Annie Brassfield who led off two innings with singles, worked a walk on 4 pitches, and made contact at a crucial moment to move the winning run to third base.
But the dramatic moment belongs to Senior Kayli Worden playing her last week of Titans baseball. Worden had already worked two walks and scored one run in a cloud of dust when she came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh with two out, a man on third, two strikes on her, and she hit the game winning single.
Worden excitedly stated that was her first walk off hit ever. She reported that the adrenaline was flowing when she had the two strikes. But she kept cool and made contact and discovered that coaches were right when they said, “Good things happen when you make contact.”
For the Titans, the learning season ended this week. They past the final exam with flying colors beating the favored Mustangs playing errorless ball, having solid pitching, and some great little ball offense. Congratulations to the players and coaches for all of their learning and success.