The Northwest Christian freshman was roughed up by DeSales for three runs and four walks through 22/3 innings Saturday in the teams’ 2B baseball state title game.
But when it came time for Mailhot – the Navigators’ No. 9 hitter – to bat with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs and his team down 10-9, he did what he’s done two other times this season.
He hit a walk-off two-run single.
Mailhot connected on a 1-0 fastball that took a friendly hop over DeSales second baseman Pat Richard’s head. As the ball scooted into center field, Ryan Heinze came across home plate, followed by Kyle Tracht for the winning run to give Northwest Christian a thrilling 11-10 extra-inning victory at Yakima Valley Community College’s Parker Field.
“When I hit it, I could tell it was going to go over him,” Mailhot said. “I was so happy. I can’t describe it. It was amazing.”
Northwest Christian (24-1) did what few teams accomplished – beating DeSales. The Irish, of Walla Walla, have won 15 state titles in the past 17 years – including last season’s 29-7 victory over Adna. DeSales also defeated Northwest Christian last season in the 2B state semifinals on its way to winning the state title.
The Navigators were down 10-7 going into their half of the eighth inning. Ty Arnold led off the inning with a walk and Rob Groeschell singled to left to put two on for Heinze, the clean-up hitter. During his previous at-bat in the sixth, he was intentionally walked to load the bases. But in the eighth, he singled up the middle to load the bases for Tracht, who then walked to score Arnold and cut the deficit to 10-8. Preston Turk’s sacrifice fly scored Groeschell from third to bring the Navigators within one. Two batters later, Mailhot delivered his key hit.
“I’m just glad he put the ball in play and not let the umpire end the game on a strike three,” Northwest Christian coach Don Heinze said.
The Navigators tied the game at 7-all in the sixth and had a shot to win it in their half of the seventh. Senior Nathan Burres led off the inning with a base hit, but was stranded at third. That sent the game into extra innings.
“That was a really big part of the game,” Ryan Heinze said. “I think we all kept our excitement up and carried it over to the next inning.”
Neither team had a particularly stellar start to the game. DeSales scored two quick runs off Mailhot on three hits, but Northwest Christian came back and put up four runs in the first to take a 4-2 lead.
The teams combined to use six pitchers. Preston Turk replaced Mailhot in the third and pitched until the eighth.
DeSales took the lead for the first time in the fifth inning, when Spencer Cordiero hit a sacrifice fly to score Tommy Greg that put the Irish up 6-5. DeSales added another run in the sixth before exploding for three in the top of the eighth to build a 10-7 lead.
Groeschell was 4-for-5 to lead Northwest Christian, which had three hits in the final inning. Ryan Heinze and Burres had two hits apiece.
“I honestly give them so much credit for not giving up,” Don Heinze said. “I cannot believe it. I don’t know how we won that game.”
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473