Standing 180 feet from home plate, Eddie Hayes knew he had to find a way to score.
With Dwyer and Belen Jesuit knotted up 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh of the Class 7A regional finals, the sophomore represented the winning run for a Panthers’ team on the verge of the state tournament for the first time in school history.
Pinch running for Kyle Khachadarian, the sophomore was able to cross home plate.
On a two-out pitch, Dwyer’s Max Howard hit a routine grounder that looked like it would end the inning, but the Belen Jesuit second baseman’s throw went low as the first baseman was unable to corral it for the out. Speeding around third, Hayes slid and beat the subsequent throw home to give Dwyer a 2-1 win and send the team to its first ever state semifinals.
“Probably about halfway down the line I saw he missed it and I said, ‘I’ve got to score at all costs,” said Hayes. “[Dwyer catcher] Dylan Arcadipane and I were going through that scenario earlier in the year and it came to, so I was looking for him and gave him a huge hug.”
The walk-off win capped off a wild week in trying to get the matchup in. The game was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but was postponed a day due to weather. On Wednesday, Belen Jesuit (21-7) made the 90-mile drive to Palm Beach Gardens again, only for the game to be pushed back to noon on Friday.
Dwyer douses baseball coach Frank Torre with a Gatorade bath following the team's 2-1 win over Belen
Dwyer douses baseball coach Frank Torre with a Gatorade bath following the team's 2-1 win over Belen Jesuit to advance to the state semifinals. (Wells Dusenbury / Sun Sentinel)
With the victory, Dwyer (25-5) avenged last-year’s 5-4 extra-inning loss to Belen Jesuit in the same round.
“I’m just so proud of my team and the way they battled all year,” said Dwyer coach Frank Torre. “It’s so special [to make it to states]. It’s a credit to these kids and all the kids in the past eight years who have come through and helped build this program into what it’s become.”
On Friday, the Panthers got a stellar pitching outing from its combination of Shane Roberts and Justin Allintoff. Roberts, a South Carolina signee, went five innings, allowing one run on just one hit, while striking out seven. Coming in from the bullpen, Allintoff tossed two scoreless innings to pick up the win in relief.
In the playoff rematch, Belen Jesuit jumped out to 1-0 lead in the first after an RBI single from Humberto Torres, but the Panthers answered back in the third inning with some small ball. After being hit by a pitch, Howard advanced to second on a bunt, stole third and then scored on a wild pitch to tie the game 1-1.