Aaron McGeorge had an ice pack on his right shoulder and a big smile on his face after Henry Clay rallied to beat Bryan Station 5-4 in a high school district baseball game Tuesday night.
McGeorge had good reason to be happy. The junior right-hander pitched a complete game, and he had the game-winning hit in the bottom of the seventh inning.
"He's that kind of guy. He wants the ball and loves to compete," Henry Clay Coach Jordan Tarrence said.
"When he's at the plate he competes, too. He doesn't strike out and puts the ball in play. He's that kind of guy."
McGeorge had reason to be frustrated early. His first pitch of the night was ripped for a triple by Bryan Station's Devon Key, who scored on a double-play ball. McGeorge also gave up a solo homer to Jesse Tudor in the first.
The Blue Devils had a chance to do damage in the bottom of the first when they loaded the bases with no outs. But Bryan Station's Landon Lynch escaped the jam unscathed.
The Defenders scratched out a run in the third on Marcus Johnson's double and Tudor's RBI single, and they added a run in the fifth on Keo Taylor's sacrifice fly.
Henry Clay got on the board in the second thanks to hits by Brandon Lord and Sam Jiunta, but the hosts still trailed 4-1 going to the bottom of the fifth.
Not that McGeorge was fretting.
"I don't show much emotion when it comes to how many runs we get," he said.
Henry Clay closed the gap to 4-3 in the fifth thanks to back-to-back RBI doubles by Jack Branchini and Trevor Hammonds.
The Devils tied it 4-4 with a two-out rally in the sixth. Cameron Lord singled, stole second and scored when Wyatt Terrell sliced a single to right field.
That set the stage for McGeorge's heroics in the bottom of the seventh. Hammonds drew a lead-off walk, and Ben Rider came in as a pinch-runner. Ben Elsen sacrificed Rider to second.
After Bryan Station intentionally walked Brandon Lord, McGeorge said he "went up to the plate smiling because I knew I had a chance to end the game right there."
He did. His fly-ball single to left drove home Rider with the winning run.
McGeorge said he thought this his best pitching performance of the season. He threw only 83 pitches, gave up six hits — only two after the third inning — had five strikeouts and two walks.
Tarrence credited McGeorge for not getting rattled early and getting stronger as the game went on.
"After the fifth inning, he said, 'I've got this coach.'"
Tarrence hopes the come-from-behind victory was what his Devils needed to boost their confidence.
"We've blown a couple leads this year and our guys have had that look in their eye, like uh-oh, what bad is going to happen," he said.
"But coming back from being down 4-1, this might be the game that'll make them believe they can win every game."
Bryan Station Coach Eddie Brooks has seen his young team improve since it started the season 0-7. The Defenders have gone 6-7 since.
"We've come a long way," Brooks said. "They're starting to compete each and every pitch, and each and every at-bat. I see a night-and-day difference."
Henry Clay 5, Bryan Station 4
Bryan Station 201 010 0—4 6 1
Henry Clay 010 021 1—5 10 1
Landon Lynch, Ryan Springer (5), Josh Owsley (7) and Jakob Hamilton. Aaron McGeorge and Trevor Hammonds. 2B—Hammonds (HC), Marcus Johnson (BS), Jack Branchini (HC). 3B—Devon Key (BS). HR—Jesse Tudor (BS)
Records—Bryan Station 6-14; Henry Clay 11-6