With his team down by four in the bottom of the ninth, Augusta State outfielder Clay Tucker never gave up.
Tucker hit the game-tying RBI triple to send Wednesday’s contest against Paine into extra innings. In the 12th, Tucker scored the game-winning run with two outs to lift the Jaguars to an improbable 12-11 victory.
“No one doubted we couldn’t come back,” Tucker said. “Once we got that first run (in the ninth), it was like a spark went off.”
The Jaguars loaded the bases with one out in the 12th. After Zach Murray struck out, Justin Appel lined a 3-2 fastball to left field for the win.
“It’s nerve-wracking,” Augusta State coach Chris Cooper said. “It shows heart. It shows character.”
Paine (1-3) scored four runs in the first and led 11-5 midway through the game. The Lions appeared to have the game in hand up by four with two outs in the ninth. Then, Augusta State (5-3) rallied for the second time in a week against its city rival.
With Preston Pye at second, Caleb Saggus reached with a bunt single. Justin Thigpen followed with an RBI single. Then, Saggus scored on a wild pitch. Seth Foster followed with a blast to center, scoring Saggus. Then, Tucker launched an RBI triple into the gap in left-center to knot up the game.
Augusta State used a different pitcher for the first nine innings because Cooper wanted his relievers to get some work before this weekend’s conference series at Flagler. Wilson Taylor tossed the final three innings to notch the victory.
Paine had 11 hits, with Jonathan Richey and Luis Serrano each recording two hits and two RBI. The Lions committed just one error, though it came in the ninth.
“We made the plays for eight innings,” Paine coach Kerby Marshall said. “It just got away from us.”