Twice the New Haven Shamrocks were down in a 2008 MSHSAA Class 1 baseball quarterfinal game in La Plata.
And, twice, the Shamrocks rallied to advance to the state tournament by winning one of the most thrilling baseball games in school history, 8-7, in eight innings.
“We were down twice in the seventh and eighth innings,” New Haven Head Coach Jim Scheer said. “We were very fortunate, but on the other hand, the kids are mentally tough and hard working. They have worked for four years for these types of moments.”
Playing Wednesday, May 21, 2008, New Haven fans hit the road for the second time during the week, having just beaten Paris in Moberly. Fans packed the small park well before game time.
La Plata, undefeated coming into the game, was the visiting team on the flip. New Haven, 16-2, the Four Rivers Conference and defending state champion, was the home squad.
The game was knotted, 3-3, going into the seventh inning. That’s when things got interesting.
Curtiss Bunch hammered a two-run home run over the shallow center field fence off of New Haven ace Blaine Abbott. La Plata also had a runner thrown out at the plate.
“As a pitcher, you don’t want to ever see a field under 300 feet to left and right field,” Abbott said. “Both teams had to deal with it and both teams hit home runs.”
New Haven didn’t give up. With one out, Jordan Willimann blasted a fastball over the left field fence. It was hard enough to knock a limb off of a tree.
Scott Sory was the next batter and he homered to center to knot the game at 5-5 once again. It was his second home run of the game.
“I was just trying to put the ball into play,” said Sory. “Hopefully it would work out for us. I ended up hitting two home runs, which was nice. This isn’t the biggest park. On our field, they wouldn’t have been out. But they were good enough for this field. That works for me.”
La Plata lefty Scott Hartsock kept it tied when he ended the inning with two runners in scoring position.
In the eighth, the first two batters reached, but Abbott picked off one. Scheer switched hurlers with Sory moving to the mound. He had pitched two days earlier.
The ninth batter, Hayden Fouch, hit a two-run home run to right center, giving La Plata a 7-5 lead.
In the bottom of the eighth, Austin Bloch was hit by a pitch and then took second on a wild pitch. Abbott doubled off the left field fence to score him.
With two outs, Abbott was at third and Sory came up to the plate. Sory, who had hit two home runs in the game, was intentionally walked.
With runners on the corners, catcher Craig Schowe came up to hit. He was down to his last strike and put the ball into play with a hard grounder to the left side.
The ball got past La Plata’s shortstop and Abbott tied the game. Sory kept going as the ball hit something in left field and skipped past the fielder, going to the fence. Sory raced home with the winning run, 8-7.
“There were a lot of different emotions in that last half-hour or 45 minutes,” Scheer said.
New Haven booked its trip the following week to Springfield.
“They were an amazing ballclub,” said Willimann. “They deserve to be up there (at the state tournament), too, but I want to be up there. I don’t feel bad about beating them.”
The win over La Plata was the final one of the season for New Haven, which finished fourth in the Class 1 State Tournament following losses to Santa Fe, 7-4, and Oran, 5-2.
If you know of a game which was unusual or interesting, please contact Bill Battle at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can feature it.