With the team trailing 4-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, Oak Creek Knights Coach Scott Holler insisted to his players they would get to Germantown pitcher Ryan Anderson.
He was right.
The Knights got four runs in the sixth to tie the game before senior Riley Shelton delivered a walk-off hit in the bottom of the seventh as the Knights won the state baseball championship 5-4 Friday in Mequon.
"They kept their energy up," Holler said. "We just kept telling the guys, 'we'll wear them out, we'll wear them out. We'll get to him eventually.' And they did that, to their credit."
The pivotal sixth-inning rally came courtesy of two walks, two hits and two errors. It was capped off when Dakota Slone delivered what was then the biggest hit of Oak Creek's season — a two-out RBI single to tie the game at 4.
Then came the seventh.
After Brad Schulte retired the Warhawks in order, Hayden Krimmer singled with two outs and Matt Bautch drew a walk.
Facing two strikes, Shelton laced a single to center field to score the winning run and send the Knights and their fans into a frenzy.
"You got to clear the mind," Shelton said. "See the ball, hit the ball. Can't let anything get to you."
Holler said it was par for the course for Shelton, who has been huge throughout the playoffs.
"It seems like every time he came to the plate in the playoffs we thought he was going to get a hit," Holler said. "We were trying to get a guy in scoring position there for Krimmer and Bautch and Shelton and we were able to there at the end."
The hit capped an incredible season for the Knights, who finish with a 28-7 overall record after placing second in the Greater Metro Conference.
Oak Creek breezed through the regional final and sectionals before entering the state tournament Friday at Kapco Field on the campus of Concordia University.
That dominance continued with a 10-0 win Friday afternoon against Sheboygan Falls, in a game where the Knights won in the fifth inning due to the 10-run rule.
But they found trouble for essentially the first time in the entire state tournament in the second inning. Krimmer, the starting pitcher, struggled with his command, walking four Germantown hitters and giving up two runs.
He settled down after that, but the Knights' offense cooled off. It was 3-0 into the top of the sixth inning before Germantown tacked on an RBI single to make it 4-0.
But Oak Creek grabbed a little momentum when it ended the inning by throwing out a would-be base-stealer.
Five runs later, the Knights were state champs. It was a team that returned only one starter from the previous season, and battled adversity with the death of booster club president Tim Ungerecht.
Holler said that was something the team rallied around.
"I always felt like there was something special this team I had," Holler said, "and I think he gave us that."
Oak Creek Patch kept a running blog Friday from Mequon. .