Coach Ryan Moore fully expected his Tippecanoe Valley baseball team to be playing for a regional championship Saturday night.
Sometimes, though, the game can be cruel.
Winning pitcher Tyler Anderson hit a walk-off, three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh to lift Hamilton Heights past the Vikings 4-1 in a semifinal game of the Class 3-A Bellmont Regional Saturday.
Hamilton Heights, who improved to 20-9 with the win, trailed 1-0 before scoring four runs in their final at-bat for the victory.
“Our No. 1 goal was to make it to the championship game and play at 8 and I had no doubt we would,” said Moore Saturday night. “We all thought we would. But, sometimes that’s the way baseball works out.
“I’m proud of our guys. We battled for seven innings and we didn’t beat ourselves. I’m proud of them for the season we had and for getting us to this point.
“It’s a weird game. We had the right approach and attacked the ball and went right at Anderson. We hit the ball hard. We just hit it right at them.”
Anderson, a senior, fired a four-hitter with six strikeouts. The 6-5 left-hander will play at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Valley ace James Hackworth took the loss Saturday. The senior lefty, who is bound for Indiana State, had six strikeouts. Jacob Ritchey had a double for Valley.
The Vikings, who won their third sectional in the last four years at Wawasee last Monday, finish 16-10. Valley graduates four seniors in Hackworth, Brody Andrews, Kameron Larimer and Alex Newman.
Bellmont crushed Leo 10-2 in the second semifinal game Saturday. The hosts then edged Hamilton Heights 4-3 in the championship game Saturday night to earn a spot in the Kokomo Semistate Saturday. Bellmont (24-8) faces Western (23-9) at 1 p.m. in the semi state for a berth in the state championship game June 16.
Leo, which was ranked No. 3 in the final poll, finishes 25-4.