Winning run on third. Sixth grader at the plate. Tensions high in both dugouts Tuesday at Polk County Recreation Complex.
Long meeting on the mound of Flat Rock coaches and players. Long meeting down the third-base line between Polk County Middle head coach Kenny Hall and his young hitter, Kaleb McEntyre. A plot hatches in the Wolverine dugout.
“Kaleb had a hit last time. Let’s tell him to stay hot,” a player suggests. “Stay hot, Kaleb, stay hot,” a full bench shouts.
One looping line drive to right field later, McEntyre remains hot even as he tries to look cool while being swarmed by teammates and coaches.
That base hit gave Polk Middle a 4-3 victory and allowed the Wolverines (2-2-2) to continue to build on the momentum of Monday’s wild 12-12 tie with Apple Valley. Polk rallied from a seven-run deficit to force that deadlock, which no doubt made the 3-0 gap the Wolverines faced after five innings Tuesday seem trivial.
A three-run rally in the bottom of the sixth took care of Flat Rock’s lead. McEntyre started that with a single, moving to second when Gunnar Alm was hit by a pitch. With two outs, Alex Perry drilled a sinking line drive that eluded the Flat Rock left fielder, allowing McEntyre and Alm to score while Perry raced all the way to third.
Karson Scruggs followed with a solid single, and suddenly the Eagles’ advantage was no more.
Cue the bottom-of-the-seventh drama. Karlan McEntyre, Piercen Edwards and Dayvion Stinson all patiently drew walks to load the bases with no outs. That returned Kaleb McEntyre to the plate for his heroics, his base hit dropping beyond the second baseman and in front of the Flat Rock outfield.
McEntyre’s smile gleamed even through the mob of hugs and high-fives.
“It was great to have a sixth grader, Kaleb McEntyre, get the game winning hit,” Hall said.
Perry’s two-run triple keyed Polk Middle’s rally, but his relief effort on the mound proved equally important. The seventh grader pitched the final four innings, all scoreless, allowing just one hit while striking out six. He earned the win.
“Alex Perry gave us an outstanding performance today both with his bat and his arm,” Hall said.
The Wolverines finished the day with four hits, one each by Perry and Scruggs, two from McEntyre, each hugely important to the final outcome.
Polk Middle has the remainder of the week off before beginning the final week of the regular season on Monday, hosting Brevard Middle for a doubleheader.