The Leigh baseball team narrowly escaped defeat on Saturday against visiting Rocklin, pushing a run across in the eighth inning for a 4-3 victory.
The host Longhorns established an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth before the Thunder started the rally with a run in the fifth to pull within 3-1.
After Leigh went down in the fifth with just a single base hit, coach Chris Perry sent senior Aaron Viner in to close the game. However, the Thunder managed to rally for two runs in the sixth as Viner struggled with his command.
Viner rebounded to shut Rocklin down the rest of the game and emerged as the winning pitcher as he formed a good working relationship with senior catcher Zach Tatar.
“I was just thinking, forget about the walks,” said Viner. “Get one strike at a time, and make them earn it.”
“Every time we pitch together, we are on the same page, we have really great chemistry, so we weren’t worried about Rocklin scoring again,” said Tatar.
With both teams’ batting stalling in the 7th, the game was forced into extra innings with the score still tied 3-3. Again, Viner, Tatar, and the rest of the Leigh fielders were able to keep Rocklin from taking the lead, and gave their batters a chance to win the game in the bottom of the eighth.
After a quick out, Leigh senior Sam Delaplane stepped up to the plate and sent a pitch soaring deep into right field, where it eventually made it under the fence, resulting in a ground-rule double. After the next batter struck out, junior Kyle Morrison ripped the ball deep to left field for the game-winning hit as Delaplane narrowly beat the throw home.
As the Longhorn dugout erupted, the team surrounded Delaplane and Morrison, ecstatic with the victory.
“We just had to fight, to keep going,” Perry said. "We had to weather the storm. Coach (Roc) Murray of Rocklin is a great coach, and always brings a formidable program, so we knew today would be tough, and we just had to play our best.”