“He knew that was the play of the game,” Cunningham said.
“We had (two) errors, but I don’t think that really showed how good of a defense we actually have,” Collender said. “We made some huge plays: Dustin making a diving play at third, for one; Alex (Caldwell) making that play at the fence (a leaping catch for the first out of the fifth inning, the double plays – Cole’s double play – that’s like four right there. That definitely helped not letting them score as many runs as they did.”
If there was any doubt about the outcome, the River Kings erased it in the top of the seventh, batting around and adding three runs when Collender walked with the bases loaded and Nolan – who reached base all five times he stepped to the plate – followed with a two-run single.
“I think once we got those three additional runs – because they really shut us down after the third inning – I think I could finally relax,” Cunningham said. “I was a little more tense today than I am typically.”
He called on Driscoll to finish it off, and Pennock could relax, too.
“During the game there was a lot of pressure,” Pennock said. “At the last second, coach told me I wasn’t going back out for the seventh. That inning I was feeling the pressure, but when I knew Ryan Driscoll was going in, it was over; the pressure was completely gone. I knew we were taking this one.
“It’s the best feeling knowing that even if you’re not on your game you’ve got someone whose just as good as you as a closer coming in.”
Soon enough the celebration was under way.
Now, the River Kings can turn their attention to the state tournament and Ankeny. Cunningham, though, might want to find a crystal ball or a fortune teller to find out if the numbers 26, 27 and 28 are in the near future.