Many baseball players will admit to dreaming about the situation at some point in their lives.
The bases are loaded with the game on the line. The pitch is thrown and then bat meets ball. For most people, the storybook ending is the ball soaring over the right-field fence.
Hickman pitcher Greg Kanuckel’s dream never ended that way, though.
He would have taken a ground ball to second base.
Kanuckel lived through the wrong half of the dream Saturday during Hickman’s 6-3 loss to Rock Bridge in the third-place game of the Sells Development/Red Weir Classic at Hickman Field. He gave up a walk-off grand slam to Rock Bridge center fielder Brandon Gerau, which allowed the Bruins (9-4) to complete a seventh-inning comeback.
Kanuckel was still waiting to wake up from the nightmare after the game.
“I’m just absolutely shocked right now,” said Kanuckel, who didn’t give up any earned runs until Gerau’s game-ending heroics. “I just can’t believe it actually happened.”
Hickman catcher Bart Steponovich called for an outside fastball and Kanuckel thought he hit his spot.
“I thought it was a good pitch,” Kanuckel said. “I’m just surprised he was able to hit it out.”
Hickman pitching coach Bobby Chick could relate to the situation.
“Sometimes these types of things happen,” Chick said. “Gerau is a great hitter, and it’s always tough to get great hitters out. Unfortunately, when you’re a pitcher, the wins and losses go on your record.”
Hickman head coach Dave Wilson hoped Kanuckel’s last pitch didn’t overshadow the pitcher’s strong outing.
“Kanuckel pitched outstanding today,” said Wilson, whose team fell to 8-9 with the loss. “We lost this game in the sixth inning, not on the last pitch.”
The sixth inning Wilson alluded to included three consecutive Kewpies’ errors which allowed the Bruins to score twice.
Although Saturday’s game didn’t end in storybook fashion for Kanuckel, that type of situation is what he loves most about pitching.
“I love being able to have control of the game,” Kanuckel said. “It’s a great feeling knowing the game is on your shoulders, but it can be a little heartbreaking sometimes.”