A wild game in a wild Ridgeview season ended the only way that seemed to fit: With a wild pitch.
Kyle Willman raced home when Golden Valley pitcher Andy Cantu sent a pitch to the backstop with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, and the Wolf Pack beat the Bulldogs 7-6 at home to clinch at least a share of the South Yosemite League baseball title.
"We've become really good at just finding a way to win," said Ridgeview senior Eric Ontiveros, who hit the game-tying home run and earned the win as a relief pitcher. "We call ourselves the 'scrappers' because we just work and scrap for runs every time we're down."
Ridgeview (24-3, 9-0 SYL) scored three runs in the first inning but fell behind 6-4 before rallying.
This one was no normal comeback, though. With two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, Ontiveros launched a two-run home run to right field -- only to watch in horror as Golden Valley right fielder Anthony Guzman slammed full-speed into the outfield fence running after it.
Guzman knocked himself out on the play and then appeared to briefly convulse on the warning track. He regained consciousness and was coherent within minutes, and though he was still bleeding from his lip, he waved to the crowd from a gurney as he was taken into an ambulance.
Golden Valley coach Mike Gibson said after the game he was told Guzman would be OK.
"Worst home run I ever hit," Ontiveros said. "I was happy, then I saw him hit the fence. You never want to see something like that."
After about a 25-minute delay, play resumed in a tie game. Ontiveros didn't give up a hit the rest of the way. Then, in the bottom of the seventh, Willman reached on an error, went to second on Ontiveros' sacrifice and to third on Alex Villalobos' groundout. With Chase Stebbins batting, Willman scored the winner.
"It's the attitude of the kids, and it's been like that all year," Ridgeview coach Jason Hunsaker said. "This was real big."
Ridgeview needs one win in its final three games to clinch the outright league title -- these teams play again at Golden Valley on Friday -- and the Wolf Pack remains in the running for the top seed in the Central Section Division III playoffs.
"Normally I don't care about seedings and things like that, but we've never been a No. 1 seed in school history," Hunsaker said. "It would be nice, because these boys have earned it."
Kyle James was 3-for-4 for Ridgeview, and Willman had two RBIs before his game-winning run.
Golden Valley pounded out 12 hits, but all of them came off of Ridgeview starter Villalobos. The Bulldogs left 10 runners on base, all in the first five innings.
"My kids battled, but we came up short," Gibson said. "We left (10) runners, and you just can't do that against a good team. They swing the bats too well for that."
Ontiveros relieved Villalobos with one out in the fourth and didn't allow a hit in 3-2/3 innings. He struck out six and walked three.
"I just had to come in and shut things down," said Ontiveros, who was going to start Friday's game but will now be available only in relief. "I was hoping I wouldn't have to, but it was a good choice."