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Champs still in it: Chowchilla baseball escapes

CHOWCHILLA -- Tyler Badger found himself in the position every baseball player dreams of since the first time they pick up a bat.

The Chowchilla junior stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seven inning with two outs and the bases loaded with the score tied against Wasco in the first round of the Central Section Division IV playoffs.

Badger tapped his bat twice on home plate as he stood in the batters box.

"I was definitely nervous," Badger said. "I just thought I had to get the clutch hit. A base hit any way and we win."

He delivered.

Badger lined a single to right field to plate teammate Kyle Espinola with the winning run and sent Chowchilla fans home happy with an 8-7 win on Wednesday evening at John Mateo Field.

"As soon as I hit it I knew it was going to be a solid hit," Badger said. "It's a great feeling."

Badger's heroics send the defending section champions into a second-round matchup on Friday against No. 2 seed Washington Union.

Early on, it didn't look like it was going to go down to the wire.

Chowchilla clobbered Wasco starter Angelo Montez out of the gate.

Kyle Espinola hit a three-run homer in the second inning and Michael York followed two batters later with a two-run blast of his own as Chowchilla sprinted out to a 7-1 lead after two innings.

Wasco roared back late with three runs in the fifth and another three runs to tie it at 7-7 in the sixth inning.

Tyler Cook, Friday's starter, came on in the seventh inning and retired Wasco in order.

Chowchilla's offense then went to work in the bottom of the seventh as Kyle Espinola led off the inning by beating out an infield single.

With Kyle begging for the steal sign from his dad -- fill-in head coach Gene Espinola -- Gene had Matthew Ruckman bunt Kyle to second.

Wasco then intentionally walked York, and two batters later, Badger found himself at the plate with the bases loaded and the game on the line.