TAMPA — Berkeley Prep senior Alex Haire already has an inside-the-park home run to his credit this season. Now he can add a legitimate, over-the-fence, walk-off, game-winning home run to his resume.
Trailing Calvary Christian by a run in the bottom of the seventh inning Thursday night, Haire came to bat with one out and Connor Leach standing on third base. His goal was to hit the ball hard and drive in a run. Instead he launched a fastball (or maybe a curveball, he’s not sure) over the leftfield fence to give the Bucs a 5-4 win.
It was his first-ever walk-off home run. That includes Little League, travel ball and four years as a player at Berkeley Prep. It was also his first out-of-the-park home run at Berkeley Prep.
“I’ve had walk-off hits before, but no walk-off home runs," Haire said.
Haire’s hit completed a four-run comeback that started in the fifth inning. It also kept the Bucs (7-0) undefeated early in the season.
“Off the bat it felt pretty good," Haire said. “But then running around second I saw the umpire give the home run sign and that’s when I was like ‘Yes!'"
For most of the game it didn’t look as if the Bucs would have a chance in the seventh inning.
The Warriors (5-2) got the game’s first run in an unusual way. In the first, Kyle Flynn got a one-out single. He went to second on a wild pitch and reached third on a fielder’s choice. Then Bucs starter Ian Brown was called for a balk to make it 1-0.
Berkeley Prep got that run back in the bottom of the second. With two outs and Andrew DeMisa on second, Roman Samson came through with an RBI single.
In the top of the third, Calvary Christian got two runs with two outs. The first came on a long home run to left by White, his third this season.
The second run in the inning came on an infield throwing error that allowed Vince Smith to score from second.
After an RBI single by Kevin Blowers in the fourth scored Charles Stevens, the Warriors led 4-1. Then the Bucs slowly mounted their comeback.
In the fifth, Davis Childers came through with a two-out single to score Gunnett Carlson. And in the sixth, a dropped fly ball in the outfield with two outs allowed Cade Kurland to score and pull the Bucs within one at 4-3.
In the top of the seventh, reliever Jake Little came in with two outs and two runners on and got a ground out to get out of trouble.
“For Jake to get that out right there and not get to Tommy (White) was huge," Bucs coach Richie Warren said. “People forget about those kinds of outs when you have games like this."
That set up Haire’s heroics.
Leach, the No. 8 hitter, walked off White, who came in to relieve starter Tyler Dietz in the sixth. After a wild pitch, sophomore Anthony Castillo pinch hit and bunted Leach to third base.
Then Haire ended it.
“I’m yelling at Connor to tag and I think Connor knew before me because he ran right by me," Warren said of the homer. “He was not tagging. But that ball was hit hard. No doubt about that one."
Haire admits to having a little bit of doubt. But even if the ball didn’t leave the park it would have at least tied the score.
“I’m just happy I hit something hard," Haire said. “Hit something hard and hope for the best."