MINT HILL, NC – On Tuesday night at Independence High School, the Independence Patriots baseball team paid honor to their six seniors: Jake Stanley, Tyler Spicer, Thomas Miller, Luke Chantry, PJ Chiles and Daniel Ramos. After recognizing the seniors, the players’ six moms took the field to throw out the first pitch. The seniors served as catchers for their own moms. After the ceremony and in front of a large crowd, the fans saw the Patriots, trailing by three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, rally for an 8-7 walk-off win over their arch-rival the Butler Bulldogs. Ryan Wilson put Butler up 1-0 in the first inning with an RBI single to left field to score Jaccob Simka from second base. The Patriots ended the top half of the inning with a Michael Short to PJ Chiles pick-off play at first base. The Bulldogs added two more runs in the top of the second inning to take a 3-0 lead but were held scoreless in the third and fourth innings.
Indy got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning. With one out Jake Stanley drew a walk. With Stanley on first, Butler attempted a pick-off play, but the pitcher made a wild throw causing the ball to go against the left-field fence and put Stanley on third base. Stanley took a big lead and the Butler catcher tried to pick off the Indy base runner. Once again the Bulldogs made a throwing error scoring Stanley to make the score 3-1. Butler came battling back in the top of the fifth inning scoring three runs on three hits to take a 6-1 lead. However, the Patriots showed some fight of their own by adding three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Garrett Lawrence led off and drew a walk. Luke Chantry followed and was given a free pass. With two on, the Indy runners moved up to third and second on a wild pitch. Thomas Miller came to the plate and singled to center field scoring Lawrence. Jake Stanley was next up and blasted a ground-rule double that bounced over the left-field wall scoring Chantry. Indy’s third run came on a wild pitch scoring Miller and moving Stanley to third. The Patriots’ next three batters went down in order and Butler led 6-4 after five full innings. In the sixth inning, Butler added another run while holding Indy scoreless and taking a 6-4 lead heading into the seventh and final inning. After going scoreless in the top of the seventh, Butler was three outs away from victory.
Indy’s Thomas Miller led off with a walk. Jake Stanley followed and reached on an error by the centerfielder. PJ Chiles came to the plate and reached on another error by the Butler shortstop’s throw to first scoring Miller and Stanley making the score 7-6 in favor of the Bulldogs. Senior Tyler Spicer, who broke his right wrist two weeks ago, was sent into the game as a pinch hitter. Spicer laid down a sacrifice bunt down the third baseline moving Chiles to second base. Indy’s head coach Samuel Skinner said that he “wanted to get all the seniors in the game. I told Spicer if we get into a bunt situation, I was going to put him in. So after scoring those first two runs, we had PJ Chiles on first with no outs. That was the perfect time for Spicer to come into the game. Tyler got in for his senior moment by laying down a sacrifice bunt to move PJ to second base. Taking his part in the win.”
Joseph Reddish followed with a walk. Indy’s next batter struck outputting Butler one out away from the win. Senior catcher Daniel Ramos came to the plate with two outs and two runners on base. Ramos missed the first two pitches making his count 0-2. Ramos said: “I was thinking the whole game I had been a little under the ball. With two strikes, I just needed to make sure that I was on top of the ball and make sure that I put the ball in play and put pressure on the Butler defense.”
The next pitch was a belt-high fastball. This time Ramos got his bat on the ball and hit a fly ball to short center field. Two Butler outfielders came charging after the ball but were unable to make a play. The hit scored PJ Chiles from second to tie the game. Joseph Reddish came from first base to score giving Indy the 8-7 walk-off win over their cross-town rivals the Butler Bulldogs. Ramos said that knocking in the winning runs “feels really great, especially against a team like Butler. This will be something I will remember for the rest of my life.” Coach Skinner said: “This win was a testament to our team all year. Outside of one game I can think of, this team has fought and scratched and competed in each game. This comes from behind close win is what this team needed.” Coach added that in his first four years as a head coach, this was his first team he had that he had coached the players for their high school careers. “These guys will always be special to me.”
Butler 1 2 0 0 3 1 0 – 7
Independence 0 0 0 1 3 0 4 – 8