The East Mountain Timberwolves had already notched two walk-off wins this season. So when they were trailing by three runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning of the June 23 Class 3A state semifinals on their home field in Sandia Park, the T’Wolves believed they still had a chance.
When Jake McFall scorched a bases-loaded grounder to third, Robertson’s third baseman charged the ball. The game could have ended right there.
But the Cardinals’ third baseman bobbled the ball and then tried to get a force out on Reed Davis at third. Davis beat him to the bag, Garrett Hitchcock scored from third on the play, and the deficit was down to two.
The T’Wolves’ hopes of getting a third walk-off win were still alive.
“I went up and my coach said, ‘Don’t think about anything, no fans, the bases aren’t loaded, it’s just you,’ so all I thought about was the pitch coming in and swinging at it,” McFall said.
One batter later, Ross Amestoy hit a fly ball to shallow left field. With the boisterous crowd on its feet, Davis dashed home, and his brother, Cooper—representing the tying run—scampered around third.
But Robertson’s left fielder charged in and made a diving catch to end the game.
As Cooper Davis crossed home plate, Robertson’s players stormed the field in jubilation of their 9-7 victory.
“We were that close,” Amestoy said as he walked off the field.
“It’s a game of inches, cuz that was like a snow cone, he just barely caught it,” East Mountain head coach Ray Demarest said. “When their left fielder came diving in, if that drops, Cooper was already around third and would’ve tied the game, but he made a great catch and that was it.”
The No. 6 Cardinals, the defending 2019 3A state champs—because Covid wiped out the 2020 season—came out swinging, scoring two runs in the first inning.
The No. 2 T’Wolves answered in the home half of the first with Amestoy, Cole Phillips and Trace Krueger scoring to take a 3-2 lead.
Robertson responded with two runs in the second inning to go up 4-3.
McFall led off the bottom of the frame with a double that hit the fence in left-center field. He later scored on a wild pitch to knot the score at 4-4.
The turning point came in the top of the third inning when Garrett Darner, who had come in as a relief pitcher in the second inning, walked the first three Robertson batters to load the bases. He then gave up a two-RBI base hit.
Krueger relieved Darner and gave up an RBI base hit to the first batter he faced. After fanning a Cardinals batter, Krueger got a ground out to first base but a run scored on the play. He later threw a wild pitch that brought in another run—Robertson’s fifth of the inning.
The T’Wolves were looking up at a 9-4 deficit.
In the bottom of the third, Hitchcock deposited a home run over the left field fence to cut the margin to 9-5.
“I thought it was gonna be a fly out to the center fielder,” Hitchcock said.
Krueger kept the Cardinals off the board the rest of the game but the T’Wolves bats were silent in the fourth and fifth.
Cooper Davis led off the bottom of the sixth with a bomb that not only cleared the fence, it bounced across La Madera Road for his first-ever high school home run to make the score 9-6.
“Yeah, that ball was gone,” Cooper Davis said. “I hit it and I was like, that’s the best ball I’ve ever hit.”
The first two T’Wolves batters in the seventh struck out before Hitchcock got hit by a pitch and Reed Davis got on board with a base hit. Cooper Davis walked to load the bases.
Two batters later, the T’Wolves’ season was over.
“They gave it everything they had,” Demarest said. “Just couldn’t come back, it was too deep of a hole.”
The T’Wolves got to the semis by dismantling the visiting seventh-seeded Navajo Prep Eagles 21-5 on June 22.
Seventeen T’Wolves batted in the first inning as Deshawn Torrez-Griego’s RBI base hit capped a 14-run outburst.
Krueger’s first-ever high school home run capped a five-run second inning to put the T’Wolves up 19-0.
“Yes sir, it felt great, it felt great,” Krueger said with a laugh about his inaugural homer.
Phillips hit a two-run homer in the third to make it 21-0.
Demarest went to his bench and brought in several subs for the remainder of the game.
“Yeah, 14 in the bottom of the first made the rest of the game really easy,” Demarest said. “The rest of the game was basically just cruise control.”
The T’Wolves finished the season with a 13-6 record.
“It was a good season, they had to fight through some adversity with Covid and masks and starting late, it’s not something any team has ever had to go through before, and being able to accomplish what they did, I think they earned every bit of that two seed,” Demarest said, adding, “I’m proud of every single one of them—sometimes you just come up short, that’s baseball, that’s life.”