Carsen Pracht hadn't pitched more than two innings all season but served as Carroll's lifeboat.
Carroll got to the Class 5A baseball state championship after a 10-4 win against Heights on Friday at Eck Stadium. Pracht threw 5.2 innings, allowed one run on three hits with four strikeouts.
"I just had to go out there and throw strikes," he said. "That was the only thing I was thinking about. Once I started doing that, I threw my off-speed stuff in there, too, and it was working great."
Pracht came in with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the second inning. Carroll was down 3-1 and in danger of falling out of the tournament.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Pracht struck out Falcons star Cody Troyer looking, but the bases were still juiced. Two pitches later, Pracht and the Eagles were running back to the dugout. Tanner Day flied out to Jesse Peoples to end the inning and the threat.
In the next frame, Pracht led off for Carroll, got on with a single and stole second. After a pair of walks, AJ Peters delivered a three-run double to left field. The Eagles stole the lead and never looked back.
"We just had to be patient at the plate and let the game come to us, instead of forcing the issue," Carroll coach Charlie Ebright said. "Eventually we did that and then got the big hits."
The gates opened in the top of the fourth. With the bases loaded, shortstop Reece Flax crushed a triple to right field. The bases were cleared, and so, too, was Carroll's path to the final.
"I knew that I was going to break it open a little bit," Flax said. "I just had to get a good bat to it. I knew he was going to give me a first-pitch strike, so I just wanted to see what I could do with it."
With the win, Carroll (21-3) has now qualified for the state championship game in football, boys and girls basketball, baseball and softball during the 2017-18 school year.
Pracht was on the championship-winning basketball team and said he isn't taking these opportunities for granted.
"When I was out there pitching and had two outs, I was just smiling, just knowing that we're going back to another championship," Pracht said. "It's crazy."