Saturday, October 25, 2014

Whitewater punches title game ticket


By Christopher Dunn

The Wildcats hoist up Jabari Richards after his home run saving catch helped clinch the victory. (Photo by Georgi

Whitewater is ready to send the school year out with a bang. The Wildcats went way on the road to win their best of three matchup with the Greenbrier Wolf Pack, punching their ticket to the championship series. Even better? Whitewater will be playing host with the title on the line.
Whitewater had their backs to the wall in the series, but that didn't bother them. After losing game one 3-2, the Cats knew one more loss and their season would be over. The feeling would've been eerily familiar as Greenbrier had eliminated them in the Final Four each of the last two season. Not this year. This was Whitewater's time.
"This team hasn't quit all year," said Whitewater coach Rusty Bennett. "I commend my coaching staff and these players for being able to bounce back and demonstrate heart and passion to win especially in a place like Greenbrier where it is tough to play."
Whitewater had plenty to feed off of as they rallied for a 14-5 win in game two and a thrilling 5-4 win in game three on Tuesday.
"The difference in this series was definitely our student body and fan base," said Bennett. "They traveled with us and were loud the entire time."
If one play summed up the never-quit Cats, it was the miraculous catch by Jabari Richards that saved the series. Whitewater built up an early 5-0 lead, but Greenbrier would come storming back. Heading into the decisive seventh inning, the Cats needed to hold on, but their grip was loosening. Greenbrier had their shot. They lofted what looked like the sure game-tying home run deep to centerfield, but Richards skied high above the fence for an unbelievable leaping catch. Richards shut down the Wolf Pack rally and pushed his team into the title game. For his efforts, Richards was hoisted up as a hero by his team. He earned it. It's a play that will long be remembered in the halls at Whitewater. Call it their version of "The Catch."
"The Catch was amazing, and, at that time in that moment, it was the best catch I've seen." Bennett added that it was the latest in a line of great plays, "We had two catches in game two that played a huge role in us getting to game three. Nick Fuerstenau made one and Jabari made another one."
Up next for Whitewater will be the Houston County Bears, a school from Warner Robins. The Bears, who were the number two seed out of Greenbrier's region, earned their shot with an upset win in three games over Gainesville. Houston's win ensured Whitewater would be hosting the championship. The series kicks off with a doubleheader on Monday starting at 3 p.m. If game three is needed, that will be played Tuesday at 2 p.m.


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