Down to its final out and on the wrong side of a one-run ballgame, it seemed as if West Springfield once again would be bested by Lake Braddock.
After all, the Bruins had swept the teams’ three previous regular season matchups.
That was then, this was now. The Spartans (18-9) forced extra innings on Saturday at James Madison High School, and walked away with a 3-2 win and the Northern Region championship.
In the seventh, junior Taylor Boyd notch a base hit, which scored Matt Meinhofer — the tying run. In extras, both teams put runners in scoring position, but none scored until the Spartans' half of the ninth when Donny Haeuptle stepped to the plate.
The senior hit a line-drive, two-run double that center fielder Alex Gransback only was able to knock it down. The hit gave West Springfield a 3-1 lead.
However, Lake Braddock did not go quietly. In the bottom of the inning, the Bruins loaded the bases for Jack Owens, who had homered earlier in the game. Owens was hit by Connor Tagg’s pitch, making the score 3-2.
Tagg then induced a pair of infield pop-outs to end the game, sending the Spartans surging onto the field in celebration.
"You can tell, these guys just …" was all West Springfield coach Jason Olms could say to reporters before his players dumped a barrel of ice water over his head.
The coach, himself a West Springfield product, toweled off and continued.
"They just have fun with it. They play loose and have a good time. Every elimination game, they play their best baseball," he said. "These kids are winners. ... I can't say enough about what our seniors have done with this ballclub. It's a great feeling."
West Springfield senior Tyler Tobin earned the win, bulldogging through the Bruins' lineup for 123 pitches in eight-plus innings.
"I felt good," Tobin said. "I've been throwing around 100 [pitches] all season, so an extra 30 wasn't bad."
"We had opportunities to win the game and didn't take advantage of those," Lake Braddock coach Jody Rutherford said. "It's just they played better than us. They deserve that championship."