May 15, 2003
Everyone attending the Deerfield-Windsor-/Southland baseball series for the GISA AAA state championship expected it to go down to the final out.
Only no one could have imagined the circumstances in which that final out occured.
The Knights win the third and deciding game 9-7 to win their first state baseball title in 1998 and become the only school in the 30-plus year history of the GISA to win state titles in football, basketball and baseball in the same year.
The Raiders looked like they were going to deny Deerfield-Windsor that honor as Southland rallied from a 3-0 deficit to take a 4-3 lead going to the bottom of the sixth inning.
However, Deerfield-Windsor took advantage of several Southland errors and a bases loaded double from Wayne Riles to scores six times in the sixth to take a 9-4 lead into the final inning.
Southland though took advantage of some shaky Deerfield-Windsor pitching to mount a final rally.
Walks and hit batsmen plated two runs for the Raiders as Deerfield-Windsor brought in game two winning pitcher Lance Walker in hopes he could finish the game.
With one out, Southland's Ben Morton hit a ground ball that bounced off the umpire to second baseman Grant Walker.
Walker stepped on second base and threw to first for what the Knights thought was a state championship winning double play.
However, the ball is dead in high school baseball when it hits an umpire.
All runners were safe meaning Southland was within two runs and still had just one out on the scoreboard.
The Raiders' Rob Jones then followed with a ground ball to shortstop Lance Walker.
Walker fielded and threw to younger brother Grant for the second out of the inning.
But when Grant turned he found the approaching Southland runner jumping high into the air with his hands extended over his head.
Grant Walker's throw was high, pulling first baseman Riner Gay off the bag.
Southland thought they had scored a run to make the score 9-8 but the umpires ruled Rob Jones out at first due to interference by the runner that was out at second.
The game was over.
Deerfield-Windsor began celebrating their third state baseball title and Southland coaches and players were arguing with the umpires about the call that led to the final out.
Senior Joey Carroll, who hit three homeruns in the series, was not surprised that the third game was so close after the first two were blowouts.
Deerfield-Windsor head baseball coach Brad Cowart, who has endured some good natured ribbing from his fellow coaches after the Knights won the state basketball title, says he was proud of his players who overcame advertisty time and time this season to accomplish their goal.
Senior outfielder Wayne Riles, one of two Knights to play on all three state champion teams, says all three titles were sweet and he is extemely proud to be a part of something that no other school in the GISA has ever done.
The loss was very difficult for the Southland Raiders who were defeated two games to one by Tattnall Square in the state finals two years ago.