JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — It seemed only fitting that on the night Northview baseball dedicated its park to the Will to Live Foundation — a foundation which aims to bring awareness to depression amongst teens and is named after former Northview player Will Trautwein who took his life in 2010 — that Northview would get an emotional, captivating win. It was also fitting that Michael Trautwein, Will’s brother, would score the game-tying run in the bottom of the seventh and that the game was decided in the 13th inning, 13 being the number Will wore while playing for Northview.
“The whole thing about Will to Live is life teammates and the memories you have together. This game provided a lot of memories for these kids and I think it was very fitting way to open this park,” Northview head coach Aaron Wilkens said.
Northview’s thrilling win in the 13th inning also included a dramatic comeback in the bottom of the seventh.
Trailing 4-1 with two outs, Northview loaded the bases after Trautwein was hit by a pitch. Griffin Cheney then stepped in, hitting a line drive single to right field to score Jaysen Dower and Matthew Pacifico and advance Trautwein to third.
With DJ Poteet at the plate, a passed ball allowed Trautwein to score, knotting the game up at 4-4 and forced extra innings.
Northview certainly had its chances to win the game before the 13th inning, putting runners in scoring position in the 8th, 10th, 11th innings, as well as in the bottom of the 12th when Northview loaded the bases with two outs were unable to capitalize.
But as the game reached the four-hour mark, the Titans finally put a runner across the plate.
Northview’s Cheney walked to open the inning and stole second. Cheney’s walk was followed by a Hooch error on a fly ball to shallow left that was dropped, putting runners on first and second with no outs.
After going down in the count 0-2, Northview’s Michael Wilson watched laid off three balls to force a full count.
What happened on the sixth pitch would result in a raucous roar from the near capacity crowd, which had endured the entire thirteen innings, and an emotional Titan dogpile.
Wilson hit a deep drive to center field.
As Hooch’s Zach Solomon tracked the ball, he seemed to lose his bearings on the warning track. A small move to his right at the last second allowed Wilson’s fly to land on the warning track as Cheney tagged up and went on to score from second.
After exuberantly throwing his helmet off crossing the plate, Cheney and the rest of the Titans created a mound of excitement and bodies on the first base line, knowing they had finally found themselves victorious in the marathon affair.
“We had so many chances to win it, but couldn’t come up clutch, so to be able to pull it out and have that weight lifted off our shoulders the dogpile was a great feeling. How many times in a career will someone be involved in a dogpile, especially in a regular season game?” said Coach Wilkens.
“They wanted it bad, they knew how big this game was and they understood the implications.”
And the inspiring, poignant win will provide a lasting memories for the players involved, and set an incredible precedence on the inauguration of Will to Live Park.