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Walk-off walk pushes St. Mary past Tilghman

By Daniel Paulling dpaulling@paducahsun.com

Nick Eggemeyer found himself in a situation Thursday evening that hitters dream of.

He walked to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning with the bases loaded in a tie game against Paducah Tilghman. If he reached base, his team would win. But rather than aim for a walk-off home run, Vikings coach Matt Smith told him to show bunt until he drew a strike.

One never came. The St. Mary senior walked on four consecutive pitches for a walk-off walk in St. Mary's 2-1 home win against the Blue Tornado.

"Do whatever you can to win the ballgame," Eggemeyer said.

The finish seemed improbable just a few hitters earlier. Blue Tornado starting pitcher Jacob Underhill threw four perfect innings and had a no-hitter over the first 62⁠3.

But then Vikings cleanup hitter Ross Whittaker singled up the middle and advanced to second on a balk. The Blue Tornado intentionally walked shortstop Davis Sims, and the two moved up to second and third on a passed ball.

The Blue Tornado then intentionally walked Vikings catcher Brian Johnson to load the bases, setting up a force at every base but taking away any margin for error.

The plan backfired when Smith decided to have Eggemeyer show bunt in order to distract Underhill from the strike zone. Underhill's fourth pitch wasn't even close.

"Get him to move his eyes from the strike zone," Eggemeyer said. "Try to mess with his tempo."

The walk was Underhill's second unintentional of the game. He took the loss despite allowing just two runs (one earned) over 62⁠3 innings. Just four balls hit by the Vikings left the infield.

"He kept us off-balance," Smith said. "When he's on, he's going to be very effective early. We had to get him late. I guess that's what we did."

Vikings starting pitcher Austin Shaw allowed one unearned run over four innings, striking out six. Eggemeyer earned the win by pitching a scoreless top of the seventh.

The Blue Tornado (16-8) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third. Right fielder Travis Crouch led off with a walk, advanced to second on a passed ball and moved to third on a wild pitch. An error by Vikings third baseman Jon Darnell allowed him to score.

Blue Tornado left fielder Miles Butler singled, but a flyout ended the threat. The Blue Tornado stranded nine runners and left the bases loaded in the fifth inning.

The Vikings (15-2) evened the score at 1 after Whittaker took a hit by pitch to lead off the sixth. He advanced to second on a Sims walk and stole third. A throwing error by Underhill on a pickoff attempt of Sims allowed Whittaker to score.

The run set up Eggemeyer's walk in the seventh. Even if it wasn't a walk-off grand slam, he was happy to send the Vikings into this weekend's All A state tournament on a positive note.

"It's huge momentum-wise knowing we can win the close games," Eggemeyer said. "I think we'll have some close ones up in Lexington."

Paducah Tilghman 001 000 0 1 2 1

St. Mary 000 010 1 2 1 2

Underhill and Armstrong; Shaw, J. Higgins (5), Eggemeyer (7) and Johnston.

WP: Eggemeyer (6-2); LP: Underhill.

2B: none. 3B: none. HR: none.

Call Daniel Paulling, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8662, or follow on Twitter @DanielPaulling.

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