“I kept going out and asking Kolton. He kept saying he was fine and wanted to go back out there,” Centerville head coach Bill Huisman said. “We’re so shallow on pitching anyway coming into this game. I know it hurt him to have to hand the ball over after the ninth.”
There was little Gonnerman could do about the deep grounder hit by Hockenson, but that didn’t stop him from trying as much as possible. In the end, Gonnerman could only throw his glove in desperation as the ball went through to left. With Baughman standing on the third, that was all Chariton needed to complete the three-and-a-half hour triumph.
“There was nothing we could do on a ball hit that hard. Frankly, we had our chances all night long,” Huisman said. “Chariton’s a good team. They may take it all the way to state. If you have a chance to put them away, you’ve got to do it. It’s a heartbreaker. There’s no question about that.”
Hockenson’s hit brought the Chargers out of the dugout for a massive dog pile on top of their freshman teammate, celebrate the end to a long, wild night of baseball in Appanoose County that featured almost anything and everything imaginable in a postseason classic. The walk-off hits came three innings after Chariton came to bat in the bottom of the seventh trailing 3-1 facing the final three outs of a fantastic season that included a South Central Conference championship, a top-10 statewide ranking and a sparkling 33-5 mark entering play on Monday.
Brett Braida got a lead-off single to bring the tying run to home plate immediately, but a Ben Kinser pop out put Centerville within two outs of the upset. Token Hall then drew a walk, putting the tying run on, before Gonnerman struck out Austin Ridenour to put the Chargers down to their final out.