Green Wave walk-off nine inning thriller to go to the playoffs

Published 8:45 am Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Paxton Junkin drove the ball down the left-field line, and the ball dropped down for a base hit, scoring the winning run as Cathedral beat ACCS 7-6 in the ninth inning.

Junkin ran towards his teammates to celebrate when he jumped up and went flying into the air before a dogpile ensued. Cathedral’s win sent them to the playoffs for the first time in five years.

“(Hollis Lees) took my legs out from under me. I jumped up and they about took the breath out of me,” Junkin said. “It was good. It was a real high. (The dogpile) was claustrophobic. It makes you want to get up. I was telling everybody to get off of me. It was worth it, it was fun.”

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Junkin said he felt like he did not play a good game. He was one for five from the plate in the second game of the doubleheader, but his one hit was crucial. He said it makes sense for cross-town rivals to meet in winners take all games for the playoffs. It has happened in soccer and basketball in addition to this baseball game, he said.

He said he was happy he got a second chance to win the game. He was unable to win the game in the seventh inning with the bases loaded. He said it was tiring to play a nine-inning game after a doubleheader. Cathedral and ACCS had played baseball since 4:30.

“It was exhausting. Somebody told me it was 11 o’clock, and I was pretty surprised,” Junkin said.

Cathedral had won the first game of the doubleheader 11-8 after ACCS loaded the bases in the final inning. Cathedral struck first in the game as Tanner Wimberly drove in two runs with a double.

ACCS responded with a run courtesy of Preston Fuller hitting an RBI fielder’s choice Conner Aplin tied the game for the Rebels with an RBI single, and Blake LaPrairie singled to give the Rebels a 3-2 lead in the top of the third. Kiley Roach extended their lead with an RBI single.

Noah Russ stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the third for the Green Wave, and he delivered a two-run bomb over the left-field wall to tie the game at 4. In the top of the fourth, two ACCS runs scored on wild pitches as the Green Wave pitching staff struggled with ball control.

The Green Wave scored a run in the bottom of the fifth off of a wild pitch to make it a 6-5 game. A ground ball to the shortstop tied the game as the home plate umpire ruled the runner had beat the tag. Tripp Cotten pitched with the bases loaded and struck out two batters to close the seventh inning.

“I was scared the whole time,” Cotten said. “I knew if I put it in the strike zone, my team would come behind me and pick it back up.”

ACCS put itself in a position to win both games and would have snapped a playoff drought as Cathedral did. Rebels Head Coach Jake Winston was telling his players to have confidence and to play within their selves.

The Rebels placed white medical tape on the chain-link screen protecting the dugout to spell out “WIN!”. ACCS had a more vocal dugout, as Winston would tell his kids to get up off the bench and cheer on their team.

A baseball bat was turned into a sniper rifle using a large sonic cup for a scope, a Dasani water bottle as a foregrip, and another water bottle tapped on as a silencer. ACCS used it to get walks to get on base, the players said. Cotten said the team has been more upbeat since Winston took over. He said he did not expect to play Cathedral in a nine-inning thriller when the doubleheader started.

“I knew it was going to be a good game,” Cotten said. “I did not know it was going to last this long.”

Cathedral plays Hartfield Academy in the first round of the MAIS playoffs at Chester Willis Field on Tuesday afternoon. The first pitch is at 6:00 p.m.