In the opening game of the District 3 baseball tournament earlier this month, Kuna found itself down 6-4 to Emmett in the middle of the sixth inning. The boys made a short rally and scored a run to make it 6-5, but a grounder ended the inning for Kuna.
I was standing next to the Kuna dugout snapping photos. Chase Hernandez, Kuna’s left fielder, sprinted onto the field for the top of the seventh. I heard him say something to the effect, “All right, it’s going to be the seventh inning,” as if he had every confidence in what was about to happen.
What happened was Kuna came back, sure enough, in the bottom of the seventh inning to win the game. They did it again in the next game, with another walkoff game-winning run to make it to the district championship game and secure a spot in the state tournament for the first time in six years.
Coach Dale Rippy has clearly done an outstanding job with such a young team of mostly juniors and sophomores. Not just in performance, but in character, work ethic and attitude. The boys were victims of bad calls, demoralizing rallies and devastating losses. But they continued to battle back, they kept their heads up, they didn’t whine or complain or throw temper tantrums.
And they learned from their mistakes. Perhaps most telling is the number of times Kuna lost the first game of a series then turned around and won the next game against the same team, including one of the biggest wins, a 13-12 victory over Bishop Kelly, BK’s only loss of the season.
Read the rest of this opinion piece in this week's Kuna Melba News.