PARMA — Maybe it was luck. Maybe it’s just fate.
Either way, the Firelands Falcons are moving on to the district final.
Down to its last strike of the season, Firelands pulled of an improbable victory in walk-off fashion to keep its magical season alive.
The winning single from Calvin Stull in the eighth inning capped the wild finish and gave the Falcons a 9-8 victory over Rocky River on Tuesday.
“I couldn’t get anything to fall earlier but I knew if I just stayed back and put a good swing on it I could get it done,” Stull said. “This just shows that we are always going to battle and go down fighting.”
Down 8-7 in the bottom of the seventh, the first two Falcons batters were retired, leaving them just one out from defeat.
To the plate came Jacob Mullins, representing the final hope.
Mullins delivered, blasting a double over the right fielder’s head to give the Falcons a bit of belief.
Aaron Myers was next up and quickly fell behind in the count 1-2 before drilling a double to right field, scoring Mullins and giving the Falcons new life.
“It was either I hit the ball or we go home, so I just had to put it in play,” Myers said. “We are a team that’s going to fight no matter what.”
Myers was stranded at second and Rocky River responded by loading the bases in the top of the eighth, once again looking like it was in control of the game.
Firelands pitcher Alex Brill managed to work out of the jam, however, forcing a fielder’s choice then coming up with a strikeout to end the threat.
Austin Urban walked to start the bottom of the eighth and advanced to second on a sacrifice by Colin Ransom, setting the stage for Stull.
He grounded an 0-1 fastball up the middle, just out of the reach of the infielders.
The center fielder came up firing, but Urban easily beat the throw, touching the plate and getting mobbed by his teammates almost simultaneously.
“Once he hit it there was no doubt I was going home,” Urban said. “If I got thrown out, then I just got thrown out, but there was nothing stopping me from going.”
The comeback, walk-off victory was the second in a row for the Falcons and has been a theme for the team all season.
“There was a couple times where I thought, man, could this be it?” coach Dan Ransom said. “But these guys are fighters and we just kept scrapping and found a way to get it done.”
The game started off looking more like batting practice than a district semifinal, as both teams had no problem producing offensively.
The teams combined for 14 runs in the first 2½ innings. Rocky River used a six-run third inning to take an 8-6 lead.
“We have a tendency to do this, take a lead then think that is enough,” Ransom said. “I have to keep telling them to keep their foot on the gas.”
Myers paced Firelands with three hits while Urban, Brill and Mullins all chipped in two.