We were playing our arch rival, the Tojans. It was the one game that I had circled on the schedule in the preseason. It was the bottom of the ninth inning. There were two outs. Only seconds earlier I had my name announced. "Now batting, number one, Matt Matteo." I stepped into the batter's box and did my usual ritual in which I swing my bat towards the pitcher and dig my feet into the dirt. I stared into the eyes of the Trojans' star pitcher, Thomas. I knew that it was going to be the toughest at bat of my life, and it came in the biggest situation, a tie game in the bottom of the ninth inning of the section championship.
I made eye contact with Thomas. We were thinking the same thing. In the upcoming minutes, we both knew, one of us was going to be the hero and one of us was going to be the goat. I could not let myself be the goat. I just couldn't. I had to find some way to get on base and help my team. The first pitch, I knew, was going to be a fastball, and it was. I had already made up my mind to swing for the fences and try and win the game. I missed. Ok, one strike. No big deal. Next pitch was a curveball on the outside corner. Strike two. Ok, down 0-2 in the count. I had to be protective. I fouled off the next two pitches, both inside fastballs. I then took two fastballs off the plate to even the count up at 2-2. After another foul ball followed by a changeup in the dirt, I was faced with a full count. I had faced Thomas nearly 100 times previously and I knew his mind like the back of my hand. I knew the fastball was coming on 3-2. And I crushed it.
Upon striking the ball, I instantly thought I had hit a game-winning homerun. After a quarter of a second, I realized that the ball was not going to leave the ballpark and I began to fly around the bases. As the first base coach frantically waved me on to second, I saw that the left fielder and center fielder were still chasing the ball down. I decided at that point that I was going to third... [continues]
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