It was a tie game at the bottom of the ninth with two outs and homefield advantage. My team was so close to winning the state finals. This moment was what I had dreamed of for years and years. We just needed one run, one measly run, and the game would be ours.
Why was I the one who had all the pressure? Why was it my turn at bat just when the game was on the line? The only thing I knew was that I would sacrifice anything in order to win this game, anything.
I walked to home plate and everything felt like it was in slow motion. The pitcher made tremendously high-speed pitches with deadly aim into the catcher’s mitt. He was muscular, sported an exclusive mitt, and wore the most expensive shoes, the Nike Air Zoom Flyers. His legs and arms were so long that by the time he released the baseball, it was only 40 feet in front of the batter, leaving absolutely no time to react. Just by watching him throw these warm-up pitches, I saw his three weapons: his curve, fastball and slider, all of which reached 90 m.p.h.
At home plate, I got into my batting stance and heard the crowd erupt with cheers and chants. I looked up, ready for the pitch to come racing at me. The pitcher stared into my eyes, trying to intimidate me. I refused to be daunted by his terrorizing expression and used the cheers from the stands to boost my confidence.
As the catcher stuck out his fingers, signaling which pitch to throw, the pitcher repeatedly shook his head until he finally gave a slight nod. As automatic as a machine, he stood up as rigid as a door. He stuck out his left leg, brought his right arm over his shoulder, the ball gripped tightly in his hand. I looked at my hands, my knuckles white from their death grip on my bat. I looked up again, and as if it were traveling in slow motion, I saw the stitches of the ball rapidly rotating to the left, suggesting a curve ball. Even though the pitch seemed to be traveling over the plate, I held off. As it approached within five feet, it was still traveling straight; I was upset at myself for holding off. Then, at the last moment, the ball took a vicious turn to the left and rushed past me out of the strike zone.
“Ball one!” the umpire roared.
After that, I decided not to doubt myself again and go with my instinct. As the next pitch came, I made up my mind to swing, thinking the pitcher would not want to be down two balls with no strikes. He once again released the ball with immense power. I hardly had any time to react, but blindly swung, hoping to make contact. In the middle of my swing, I felt a soft thud; I peered up to see the ball flying high and far. At that point, I knew it was the greatest moment of my life. I rounded the bases, gazing at my family in the stands who were fiercely cheering.
That winning hit was my first, and my last, walk off home run. My teammates and I would always remember this event, and always view it as one of the greatest times of our lives.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.