During an exciting finale to the Tucson Invite for the University of Redlands baseball team, first-year center-fielder Payton Walsh (Santa Ana, CA) embraced the moment to hit a big-time, walk-off single for two RBI to take down Whitman College (WA) in a 10-inning, 9-8 battle.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a fast start with junior third baseman Anthony Acosta's (Simi Valley, CA) single to left field. Senior shortstop Aaron Singh (Anaheim, CA) followed that up with a bomb to right field for a triple to bring Acosta home for the first score of the game. Singh also made it home on the ensuing sacrifice fly for Redlands' early 2-0 lead.
However, the Blues took advantage of costly errors in the second frame that resulted in a 3-2 lead for Whitman.
But the Bulldogs were unfazed, as junior left-fielder Tony Rosario (Monterey Park, CA) knocked a single to left field that scored senior catcher Bart In den Kleef (Oosterhout, Netherlands) to tie the game. The Bulldogs eventually loaded the bases and gained a run after an error from the Blues, which gave Redlands a 4-3 advantage after two.
Despite facing adversity with loaded bases in the top of the third inning, first-year pitcher Andrew Rueter (San Diego, CA) threw a slick pitch to catch the Whitman batter looking to escape the inning with no runs scored.
The Maroon and Gray extended the lead with its third consecutive, two-run inning for a 6-3 advantage. With sophomore right-fielder Cal Bridges (Fremont, CA) on second, first-year designated hitter Chris Hardin (Highland, CA) knocked a powerful triple over Whitman's leaping outfielder to bring him home. Hardin then scored on Rosario's sacrifice fly to put Redlands in front by a score of 6-3 through just three innings.
Rueter pitched his second straight clean inning in the fourth, while first-year shortstop Max Smyley (Sarasota, FL) scored on a sacrifice fly for Redlands' comfortable 7-3 lead.
However, Whitman slowly worked back into the game with one run in each of the next four innings to eventually tie it up at seven by the bottom of the eighth. The stage was set for the Bulldogs' storybook ending with both teams producing efficient innings to force extra innings.
In the top of the 10th, senior second baseman Eduardo Martinez-Razo (Rialto, CA) made a tough grab on a fast-moving ball and then performed a diving throw to senior first baseman Brendan Moore (Murrieta, CA) for the inaugural out of the inning. After a similar play for the second out, Whitman made it on base for the eventual go-ahead run.
With one score to make up at the bottom of the 10th, the Bulldogs battled at the plate against the Whitman closer to load the bases. With two outs and two strikes, Walsh embraced the moment with composure and knocked a walk-off single down left center for the crowd-pleasing victory.
Redlands (2-4) prepares for another road trip, as the team heads to Austin, TX, for four games. The Bulldogs face the University of Texas at Dallas on Friday, February 15, at 11 a.m.