Andy Judkins was planning to pinch hit for senior catcher Sam Monk.
With a runner on first and one out in the eighth inning of a 3-3 game, Benilde-St. Margaret’s was a run away from the Class 3A state title.
Monk had struck out twice already in the game. A pinch-hitter would’ve made sense. But Judkins looked at Monk and thought the catcher gave him a look as if to say “I got it.”
“And I guess you’ve got to trust your guys, right?” the coach said.
In this case, anyway.
Monk went up to the plate, got an inside fastball and turned on it. He hammered a liner that flew all the way to the left field wall and caromed back into the outfield.
Monk briefly rounded first base, slipped, then retreated to the bag and stood firmly on it. He was in shock.
Meanwhile, his teammate Tomas Lee was sprinting around the diamond and coming home for the winning run to give the Red Knights the 4-3 win over Mankato West at Target Field and their first state title in program history.
“It was crazy. I was in shock,” Monk said. “I honestly didn’t know what happened.”
Easton Breyfogle went 2 for 3 for the Red Knights (24-3), adding a sliding grab with the bases loaded for the third out in the top of the eighth inning to keep the game tied. Dan Porisch went 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs for Benilde-St. Margaret’s. Jace Liebl went 2 for 3 for Mankato West (25-2)
After the game, Judkins went to Monk, grabbed his jersey and said “that’s what it’s all about.” The head coach is all about giving kids multiple chances, allowing for failure – which is plentiful in baseball – and offering the chance to rebound.
“We talk about the positives and you’ve got to keep going with it,” Judkins said. “You’re going to get another at-bat, you’re going to play another inning, you’re going to do all these things. It’s what we preached all year and it worked out and we got another W.”