DANA POINT — Dana Hills senior outfielder Aedan Anderson jogged out to center field on Wednesday afternoon.
He knew his team needed to defeat Mission Viejo for an opportunity to play for a league championship and CIF berth.
Four hours and 14 minutes later, Anderson just did that.
He hit a walk-off home run in the 14th inning that finally sent the Dolphins home with a 2-1 win.
It was Anderson’s only hit of the night.
Earlier in the day, he struck out twice and, in the bat before the home run, he got hit by a pitch.
“It must have knocked my eyes right or something, because I was seeing the ball well,” Anderson joked about getting hit by the pitch. “I was thinking, ‘I get one more at-bat. I have to do something,’ and it was going to be with my speed or my power.”
The win now sets up a one-game, winner-takes-all South Coast League championship on Friday at Mission Viejo.
“There were five or six different opportunities to win the game but we didn’t execute,” Dolphins coach Tom Faris said. “I just told them, ‘You can’t rely on a home run or a kid who has thrown just two-thirds of an inning all year.'”
But Dana Hills did just that.
The team rushed to home plate to meet Anderson and celebrate a walk-off win, but also showed their appreciation to Garrett Leite.
Coming into the game, he threw just 0.2 innings almost two months ago in a game against Villa Park on March 31.
On Wednesday, he pitched five innings of near perfect baseball. His only blemishes were a hit by Will Burns and when he hit Jacob Hambel.
“I knew if they were going to throw strikes my defense was going to make plays,” Leite said.
Dana Hills took an early lead all the way back in the second inning.
Senior left fielder Kanoa Perman singled to left field and, one batter later, Grant Faris doubled him home.
Faris also took the mound to start the game and pitched almost five full innings. He gave up a run in the fifth inning on a fielder’s choice and finished with six strikeouts.
Mission Viejo has been known for its potent offense this season, compiling 18 combined home runs.
But with their offense stymied, Diablos senior pitcher Will Dagarin kept his club in the game.
He threw 111 pitches through eight innings and kept the score tied, 1-1.
Dana Hills took away an opportunity for Mission Viejo to score in the ninth inning, when right fielder Sebastian Moore threw out Michael Pollard at the plate, but also squandered opportunities to score, leaving runners on third base in the ninth and 12th innings.
Finally, Anderson stepped up in the 14th.
“I was talking to (Mission Viejo’s) catcher about my girlfriend being here all 14 innings and I want to go home and that was it,” Anderson said.
Anderson finished with just the one big hit, but Faris said he has been a “catalyst” all year, leading the team with 16 RBIs and sitting second in hits (22) and home runs (3).
“My nickname for him is ‘The Catalyst,’” Faris said. “We kind of go off his energy and how well he does at the plate. He obviously picked us up today.”
Anderson and the rest of the Dolphins will get Thursday off.
So how will he rest up?
“In & Out and some time with my girlfriend,” he said.