Sometimes, all it takes is one piece of adversity to test the championship mettle of an athlete.
Saturday’s Class D state high school baseball championship game between Searsport and Penobscot Valley provided a fantastic glimpse of that.
Vikings senior righthander Kyle Moore had been cruising through three innings of work, and when he returned to the Mansfield Stadium mound in the bottom of the fourth inning, he had a five-run cushion to work with.
The Howlers subsequently made their first threat of the afternoon, placing runners on second and third with nobody out, and PVHS’ Jarrett Priest subsequently hit a sharp comebacker toward the mound.
Moore didn’t have time to get his glove up, and the ball struck him in the throat on a hop.
Anytime a pitcher gets hit anywhere in the facial area, it’s a scary moment. Anyone who has followed America’s pastime has seen it. The worst I’ve seen was when Bryce Florie was struck in the face with a line drive while playing for the Red Sox, effectively ending his career.
Despite being in some pain, Moore shook it off like a champion, and after taking a few moments to drink some water and collect himself, he got a strikeout and a double play to end the Howlers’ threat. Searsport went on to win the game 10-2 for the program’s second consecutive state championship.
Moore said after the game the moment only made him stronger. “It’s just an all-in-the-moment type thing. When it hit me I just blanked out and got zoned in the game more,” he explained. Getting the strikeout and double play after being struck by the ground ball kept momentum on Searsport’s side when it appeared the Howlers were gearing up to get back into the contest.
I was absolutely impressed with Moore’s poise on such a championship stage. While he isn’t a strikeout pitcher, he continued to pound the strike zone and utilize his defense. Moore only walked one Howler on the afternoon and his defense committed just one error behind him. He stayed relaxed on the mound and focused on one hitter at a time.
He even helped his own cause in coach John Frye’s balanced offense, contributing a two-run base hit in a five-run sixth inning that put the game on ice for the Vikings.
Anyone who faces any sort of adversity in the athletic arena can look at Moore as a fantastic example of how to keep your head in the game. It certainly can be looked at as a storybook ending to a high school career that culminated with a pair of state championships.
Moore will go on to play for Central Maine Community College next year, and that program will certainly be fortunate to have him. He and his teammates will certainly remember Saturday’s state championship for the rest of their lives.