It had been a miserable Thursday night for Andale-Garden Plain and it was three outs from becoming even worse: falling in a doubleheader sweep to Mulvane, a team which entered with a losing record.
After Mulvane had rocked Andale’s ace, Zach Baxley, for six runs in a 7-2 victory in Game 1, the Wildcats had put Andale-Garden Plain in a 10-3 hole entering the bottom of the seventh inning.
Then the improbable happened.
Andale-Garden Plain rallied for eight runs — the final four coming with two outs — to pull off a thrilling, walk-off 11-10 victory to spoil Mulvane’s plans of a sweep.
“I told our kids afterwards that that’s probably the most emotions I’ve ever had in one night,” Andale-Garden Plain coach Chase Boyd said. “We go from being frustrated and trying to figure out ways to get us going to all of a sudden it just starts clicking. It was definitely a rollercoaster and a night we probably won’t forget any time soon.”
Instead of Andale-Garden Plain hitting a four-game losing skid and Mulvane registering a season-defining sweep, Andale-Garden Plain (15-3) was the team that left Thursday elated and not Mulvane (7-11).
The come-from-behind victory also clinched the AV-CTL IV championship outright for Andale, which finished with a 9-1 record. A loss would have left the door open for Collegiate (6-2) to potentially earn a shared title. It also keeps Andale-Garden Plain (15-3) two games ahead of Maize South (13-5) for the No. 1 seed in their 4A I regional.
“But more importantly than all of that, we got back to ourselves,” Boyd said. “Just to finally get back to playing like we know we can, I think emotionally that was more important than us winning league for the fifth time in a row.”
The rally began with Andale-Garden Plain drawing three straight walks to open the seventh inning. Then came the first out, but Mulvane would commit errors on the next two balls in play and allowed Andale-Garden Plain to plate two runs.
Harrison Denk drew another walk to load the bases again, then Dillon Wells delivered an RBI single to cut Mulvane’s lead to 10-7. But a runner was caught in a run-down during the play for the second out in the inning.
Nate Postlethwait singled on a line drive to right field to drive in a run, then Baxley followed with a ground ball up the middle to score another and cut Mulvane’s lead to 10-9. Peyton Niemann loaded the bases when he was plunked by a ball.
That set the stage for Parker Herbst, who hit a sharp ground ball to the left side of Mulvane’s infield. The shortstop bobbled on the gather, which forced him to go to first. The throw was errant, which made Herbst safe and allowed the game-tying run to score.
But in the commotion, Boyd was waving Baxley, who was on second, around third base and signaling him home. Mulvane was caught off-guard by the aggressive baserunning and couldn’t make the play at the plate as Baxley crossed home plate as the winning run on senio night.
“It was like we had won a state title or something,” Boyd said. “Everybody came rushing the field and either picking up Zach or Herbst. I’m going crazy and my assistants are running around and we’re high-fiving and hugging. What made it special was it was senior night, so to come back and be able to send the seniors out like that...this is going to be a night we’re going to remember for a long time.”