“Don’t let us win this one” was the motto the Spalding University Baseball team lived by all year. It is derived from the ESPN film, 4 Nights in October, a documentary about the Boston Red Sox’s improbable comeback against their archrival the New York Yankees when they were down 3-0 in the ALCS in 2004. The movie features Red Sox captain, Kevin Millar, walking up to players in batting practice before game 4 saying to each one, “Don’t let us win this one”. Even with the team down 3-0 and the Red Sox facing elimination, Kevin Millar still had the utmost confidence his team could win the series and knew that if the Yankees gave them an opening they would be tough to beat. The Spalding Baseball team faced a similar situation this week after losing in the semifinals of the USCAA World Series. With the loss, the team would have to win 3 games in one day, a 27 inning marathon that seemed impossible.
The players rallied around the idea of “Don’t let us win this one” and declared that today would be forever known as “One day in May.” It started with an elimination game vs. Rochester College, the #3 seed in the World Series. The Golden Eagles would get a stellar performance from their Senior workhorse, Zach Stevenson, throwing 9 innings giving up only 3 runs on 6 hits. The team would find itself down 3-1 most of the game but found magic when third basemen Ira Land hit into what seemed a double play, but after beating it out and scoring a run, freshmen Dalton Brow, scored all the way from second base to tie the game, a play that would turn the game around. After loading the bases in the ninth inning, the Golden Eagles saw their first win of the day come on a game ending pass ball scoring Derek Ferch and advancing Spalding to the National Championship where they would have to beat Apprentice twice in a row.
“I think this team said the words, ‘Don’t let us win this one’ about 100 times during that game,” stated Coach Stawski. “It is something that we have said all year long. We watched that movie before our first game just to teach the guys about baseball and what it takes to win. It was kind of a running joke throughout the year but quickly became a part of this team. In the end, I believe the lesson was learned.”
The first game of the National Championship saw senior, Taylor Reilly take the mound for the second time in the championship, just one day after a 7 inning gem vs. Southern Virginia. Reilly would throw all 9 innings, giving up only 1 run ending his storied career at Spalding on the highest of notes with a 5-1 Spalding victory. “I just wanted the ball,” Reilly stated. “I felt great pitching on short rest and once the game got going, I wasn’t coming out. I just wanted to get us to the final game, I knew if I could do that we had it.” Coach Stawski’s confidence in his starter never wavered and just like his starter, didn’t see him ever coming out. “What can I say about that performance? He is an absolute bulldog. He threw the best game of his career and it was on the biggest stage on one day’s rest. It doesn’t get much better than that. The win would pull Spalding one game closer to the impossible, winning 3 games in one day to win a National Championship.
The final game saw, sophomore, Tyler Brown take the mound for the second time in the World Series, 2 days after his 9-3 defeat of Selma University. The team would keep up its hot play scoring 2 runs in the first and another 2 in the 4th to take a 4-0 lead. It would tack another run on in the 5th and would go into the final 3 innings with a 5-2 lead. After an easy 7thand 8th inning, Tyler Brown and the Golden Eagles would take the field in the 9th trying to secure their first ever National Championship. After two quick outs and an infield hit, Tyler Brown threw an 0-0 FB to the Apprentice 7 hole hitter and saw a routine fly ball find the glove of senior outfielder, Eric Johnson, and the story book ending was written. The impossible was done. Just like the Red Sox in 2004, the Spalding Golden Eagles had a series of magical moments topped off by 27 innings of flawless baseball.
“Don’t let us win this one” was the motto from the beginning of the season all the way until that final out hit the glove. The confidence the team held in the most dire of moments was a result of hard work, dedication, and a passion to be something special. The team is made up of individuals from all over the country, all at Spalding for one goal. They come from different backgrounds, different beliefs, and different ideals but now they have one thing in common; One day in May, they are all National Champions.