Yoga Berra said, "It ain't over till it's over."
And boy, was he right.
Coming back from the dead not once, but twice, the Izard County Cougars managed to pull off an amazing 10-9, extra-inning victory over Nemo Vista in the first round of the Class 1A State Baseball Tournament May 9 at the Cougar Sports Complex in Brockwell.
Curtis Clark and Jed Yarnell had their fingerprints all over the scene of this crime, as the Cougars stole victory straight from the beak of the Redhawks.
Izard County trailed 9-6 in the bottom of the 10th inning when Steven Walker got the game-winning rally started for the home team with a hit past the Nemo Vista third baseman. Next up, Kyle McCandlis smoked a liner into left field, giving the Cougars a pair of baserunners.
Then with one mighty swing of the bat, the game was tied.
Clark drilled a shot over the fence in deep left that drove in three runs, tying the game at 9-all.
But Izard County was not done.
Jeremy Burns crushed a ball to right, and he didn't stop motoring until he was on third, placing the go-ahead run 90 feet from home for the Cougars.
Nemo Vista reliever Phillip Henderson then issued intentional walks to Scott Small and Ethan Porter, bringing up Yarnell with the sacks juiced and no outs.
Turns out that was a big mistake on the Redhawks' part.
Yarnell worked the count until it was in his favor at 3-1 and then finding a pitch he liked, creamed the ball into left field, bringing in Burns for the game-winning run.
That was the second time in as many frames that the Cougars looked finished, and the second time Yarnell came up huge.
Trailing 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, Yarnell legged out an infield hit, beating the ball to first base. He then stole second and third on two wild pitches from Henderson with McCandlis in the batter's box. McCandlis responded by hitting a towering shot straight up into the air just down the third base line. Scrambling into position to catch the fly, Henderson and Nemo Vista catcher Marshall Bryant then watched as the ball fell between them in fair territory as a heads-up Yarnell streaked home to tie the game at 6-all.
Nemo Vista Head Coach Stan Karber, however, was not around to witness any of Izard County's ninth- or 10th-inning magic. Yarber was tossed out of the game by the home plate umpire for vehemently arguing a call in the bottom of the eighth. With two runners on base, McCandlis hit a chopper to third base and Alex Gale managed to reach third, avoiding a sweeping tag in the process. Karber did not agree and ended up getting ejected while shouting his objections.
Clark, McCandlis and Small all homered in the game for Izard County.