Parents and Winter Park Wildcats fans witnessed high school baseball at its nail-biting best Friday night as a dramatic walk-off kept the Wildcats’ winning streak alive.
The Timber Creek Wolves (3-3, 0-2) were hungry for revenge that night as they took the field at Winter Park High School. A 5-3 loss two days earlier to the Wildcats (5-0, 2-0) on their own field had left a bad taste in their mouths.
After the game went scoreless through the first two innings, Timber Creek blew the game wide open with a three-run third, followed by a fourth in the next inning thanks to a crafty bunt.
Meanwhile Winter Park’s varsity sluggers struggled at the plate. Sly pitching from Timber Creek’s Joey Acre and Cameron Zook kept the Wildcats walking back to the dugout.
But the Cats responded with heart at the top of the fifth inning, keeping Timber Creek off the scoreboard and stopping the bleeding.
The Wildcats stepped up to the plate and quickly filled the bases with a flurry of singles.
An opportunity came for Hunter Lee to bring the house down with a well-placed line drive.
Lee did even better, crushing the ball over the right field fence as fans in orange and black went ballistic in the bleacher seats.
Just like that it was all tied up.
The Wolves broke that scoreless streak with two runs at the top of the 10th to give themselves a 6-4 lead.
The Cats had their backs against the wall, but once again responded well.
A line drive from Alex Lucre that made it past the Timber Creek shortstop and brought a runner home from third base – a go-ahead run that cut the deficit to one.
Runners stood on third and second as Freddie Torres stepped up to the plate, the game on his shoulders as two outs glowed on the scoreboard.
A strike and a foul tip put the count at 2-2 as spectators held their breath at the next pitch. Torres swung hard and sent a bomb deep into left field.
The bleachers behind the Wildcats’ dugout erupted.
Winter Park’s walk-off victory gave them a 2-0 record for their season series of two games versus Timber Creek. They won’t see the Wolves until playoff time, where Winter Park will have a chance to redeem themselves following a loss to the Wolves in last season’s district championship.
“It’s really nice when you see the guys never get down and never give up,” said Wildcats coach Bob King following the 7-6 win.
“You love to see the kids not quit. You hate when they hang their heads, and they never hung their heads.”
Winter Park now sits on a five-game winning streak, remaining undefeated in regular season play. Next they headed on the road to face University High School on Feb. 26 at press time.