Faith Academy senior Cole Berry needed to see exactly one pitch to erase the memory of an error that could have ended his career with the No. 1 Rams.
As a result, Faith Academy now advances to the third round of the Class 6A playoffs with a 6-5 win over Helena.
Facing the state’s No. 2 team in the deciding third game of the series, Faith raced to a 3-0 lead after four innings. But the Huskies exploded for four hits and five runs in the top of the fifth to take a 5-3 lead. The key blow was a bases-clearing double by junior Ryan Storey that drove in three runs. The outburst was also aided by an uncharacteristic dropped fly ball in right field by Berry.
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The bottom of the fifth began with two singles, which brought Berry to the plate. The first pitch he saw was a curveball, which he crushed over the right-field fence for a three-run homer.
“That error was in my mind when I came up to bat,” Berry said. “I knew that if the first pitch was in the zone I was going to swing as hard as I could and see what happened.”
Faith reliever Jaden Brown was dominant over the last two innings to pick up the win. Three of the final five outs came on strikeouts, including a tantalizing breaking ball that was called for a third strike to set off a victory celebration.
“That was not a typical high school baseball game,” said Faith Academy coach Matt Seymour. “Our group is just a bunch of grinders. Today they found a way to win against a great high school baseball team.”
Faith Academy (28-5) won the final two games of the series after falling 2-1 in Game 1 Friday. The Rams will now travel to Tuscaloosa to face Hillcrest in the third round.
The season comes to an end for Helena, which finished 26-9.
“I’m proud of how this team played all year, but I’m even more proud of how these guys set the standard for our program on and off the field,” said Helena coach PJ Guy.