Decatur first baseman Nick Trachta stepped to the plate to lead off the bottom of the seventh in a tie game.
He needed to just two pitches to send everyone home.
Trachta blasted a 1-0 pitch deep over the left-field fence for a walk-off, solo homer in a 5-4 victory over the Gainesville Leopards in the District 9-3A opener.
“I was really nervous. He gave me a curveball and the second pitch was right over the plate,” said Trachta, who was mobbed by his teammates at home plate and doused with water during a postgame interview.
“It was my first high-school homer. I knew it was gone. It felt perfect.”
Along with setting off a postgame celebration, Trachta’s homer sealed a third straight win for the Eagles (7-9-2, 1-0).
“That’s three games in a row we’ve played good,” said Decatur coach Chris Carter. “We take it one game at a time and each game is different. We’ll come back and go to work tomorrow.
“I’m trying to teach these kids to have a routine and stay calm under pressure. They did a great job of working through their routine, to stay focused and make plays.”
Before Trachta’s game-winning hit, the Eagles needed pitcher Clayton Egle to get out of a jam in the top of the seventh with the bases loaded and no one out.
Gainesville loaded the bases on an error, a failed fielder’s choice at second on a sacrifice bunt, and a walk.
Egle got a pair of ground balls for force outs at the plate. Then with two out, he struck out Jordan Hall to end the inning.
“I said to myself it was time to buckle down and pitch to the best of my ability,” Egle said.
“This is big win. It’s good to get out and win the first district game at home.”
Egle allowed four runs – three earned – on six hits over seven innings. He struck out eight and walked four.
Gainesville scored its unearned run in the first inning on a two-out error, giving them a 1-0 lead. The Leopards scored three of their four runs with two outs, including a pair in the fifth on four straight singles.
The Eagles tied the game at 1 in the third as Cain Lowe took home on a passed ball.
Lowe put Decatur in front 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth when a single off the Gainesville shortstop plated two runs.
Gainesville immediately tied the game in the next half-inning and took a 4-3 lead with a sacrifice fly by Tyler Turbeville in the sixth.
Decatur answered with a RBI-single to right by Mason Baur.
That tie was eventually broken in dramatic fashion by Trachta.
“A couple of kids said to hit a home run. I was just trying to get a base hit,” Trachta said.