OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa baseball team was ready to celebrate a thrilling 10-inning win over a top-10 opponent on Friday night.
All they needed was for Brinden O’Leary to come on home before the celebration could officially begin.
O’Leary dove back into third base with two outs in the bottom of the 10th in the second game of a CIML baseball doubleheader with ninth-ranked (4A) Waukee, drawing a throw from Warrior relief pitcher Micheal Irvine. The throw went under the glove of Cooper Crouse, who in reaching for the ball hit O’Leary with his glove diving back into the base.
Hence the momentary hesitation by O’Leary.
“I felt the tag and heard Coach Jaeger. I thought he was saying ‘no no’ instead of ‘go go.’ I thought for sure I was out.”
While O’Leary was laying in momentary dejection, the Ottumwa baseball team burst out of the first base dugout for what proved to be a delayed celebration. O’Leary got up and saw a great surprise awaiting him down the third base line.
“When I turned around, that’s when I saw Coach Jaeger waiving me home,” O’Leary said. “It was definitely a shock.”
The win was the second walk-off upset of a ranked opponent for the Bulldogs. Thomas Mitchell delivered the first with a two-out RBI single to right on June 17 against second-ranked (4A) Ankeny, setting off an equally wild celebration at first base.
Mitchell was run down by his Ottumwa teammates that night for the dogpile. On Friday, O’Leary had to run to the dogpile that was waiting as he clinched a win on what easily could have been a frustrating night for the Bulldogs (9-8) after losing the opening game to Waukee, 6-1, and trailing 1-0 entering the seventh in game two.
“In the course of that game, there were a lot of things that happened. Waukee had the bases loaded (in the top of the 10th) with no one out. We had the bases loaded early on in the game. It was just a chess game,” Ottumwa head baseball coach John Jaeger said. “That last play just came down to forcing Waukee out of their element. They tried to force something, the ball scoots away and Brinden didn’t know what was going on. I was yelling at him to head for home.
Waukee’s only run in game two came in frustrating fashion. Jacob Barton’s high fly ball to open the top of the sixth was lost in the lights, allowing Barton to reach second base on a lead-off double. After taking third base on a wild pitch, Barton was beaten to home plate by a throw from Jesus Jaime at third base on a sharp grounder hit by Jackson Wentworth. Julian Moore, however, forgot to make the tag on Barton at the plate.
That run seemed like it would hold up to provide Waukee (12-12) with a road sweep as the Bulldogs were down to their last out when Mitch Wood singled to shallow right to extend the game. Jaime then followed with a double into the left field corner, bringing Wood all the way home with the tying run.
“It was one of those things that we had to prove that Ankeny win wasn’t just a fluke,” Jaeger said. “We needed to come out with another signature win against a good team and show everyone we can play with some of the better teams in the state.”