DES MOINES – It’s the tough part of baseball.
No matter how well you play for most of the day. No matter how well things seem to be going. No matter how assured victory appears to be even as the innings and outs tick off the board.
Until that last out is recorded, it can all go away in the blink of an eye.
The Chariton Chargers were reminded of this harsh lesson in a cruel way, by having the program’s first-ever state tournament win snatched away in the final inning by the second-ranked Clear Lake Lions. Down to their final out, and apparently on the way out of the way Class 3A State Baseball Tournament, the Lions roared back in a big way with the only two extra base hits of the night.
A double by Brock Adams, a walk to Mitch Keeran and a bases-clearing triple to right by Brandon Tofte turned apparent victory by Chariton into instant celebration for Clear Lake. The walk-off 5-4 victory gave the Lions the date with Harlan in Friday afternoon’s 3A semifinals and left Chariton wondering about what might have been.
“It’s not a surprise to me that we were in that position. We had a good team that won 35 games this year,” senior Token Hall said after having his Charger career ended in a stunning way in Des Moines on Tuesday. “In my mind, I still think we were the better team. They just happened to catch a break right there at the end.”
That break wasn’t readily apparent as the Chargers appeared for most of the day to be good enough to win a game at the state baseball tournament despite being down a regular starter. Chariton took the field in Des Moines without junior outfielder Ben Kinser, who was injured just 24 hours before Tuesday night’s contest.