COLUMBIA — Travis Bittle was well on his way to being the goat.
The senior third baseman for the Rock Bridge baseball team had made two errors and was 1-for-3 at the plate with two strikeouts, one of which stranded two runners on base to end a fifth-inning rally.
Then he came to bat in the bottom of the seventh.
With the Bruins trailing Eureka 7-6 with one out and runners on second and third, Bittle hit a line drive down the right field line to give the Bruins an 8-7 victory Wednesday at Rock Bridge Field.
“That was incredible,” he said. “There’s no way to explain it.”
As Ryan Schmidt was rounding third base on his way to scoring the winning run, his teammates were piling out of the dugout to congratulate Bittle.
After losing to Blue Springs South on Tuesday, Rock Bridge coach Justin Towe said it was great to see his team get back on track.
“We really needed that win,” he said.
But with five errors in Wednesday's game, Towe said he needs his team’s defense to improve.
“Our success is going to hinge on our infield,” he said. “If we can catch the balls on the infield, we’re going to be a pretty competitive team. If we don’t, we are going to put ourselves in this position a lot.”
Towe added that he thinks the walk-off double will help Bittle get back on track and stop putting so much pressure on himself.
“He needed that more than anything, just to kind of say, ‘OK, this is still just a baseball game, let’s go have fun,’” Towe said.
Bittle admitted he was trying to atone for his previous mistakes in his last at-bat.
“I was going to swing at anything,” he said. “I didn’t want to let my team down with another strikeout.”
Schmidt picked up the win for the Bruins. Ryan Emmerson was charged with the loss for the Wildcats.
The win improves the Bruins to 2-1. They will travel to Sauget, Ill., on Thursday to play Granite City in the Border War, a series of seven games between high school baseball teams from Missouri and Illinois. Last year, the series was split 3-3 with the seventh game rained out.