With their backs against the wall for almost all of Game 2 of the Class 5A regional finals against Southlake Carroll, Arlington Martin needed some breathing room after it took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning.
It didn’t take long for one of Martin’s more unsung players to come through with the best play of his varsity career.
Up for just his 47th at-bat of the season and after striking out twice already, designated hitter Colton Hoisager ripped a two-out, two-run double.
The Warriors’ 4-1 victory completed a 2-0 sweep and a berth in the state tournament. Martin will play Fort Bend Dulles at noon Friday at Dell Diamond in Round Rock.
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“I’ll remember it for the rest of my life,” Hoisager said of Friday’s double. “I’ve never had an opportunity like that before, and I just knew I was going to come up in the game. I thought that situation was going to happen, and it did and I turned on that fastball.”
Martin coach Curt Culbertson elected to pinch-run for Hoisager, allowing his teammates to storm out of the dugout and greet the unlikely hero with a flurry of slaps on the helmet.
“I can’t tell you how big that hit was for us to separate it from a 2-1 game to a 4-1 game,” Culbertson said. “That relaxes everyone a little bit in a huge pressure situation.”
Hoisanger has 100 fewer at-bats than Martin leadoff hitter Tyler Kendrick and appeared in just 24 of Martin’s 44 games this season. The junior, however, saw his role expanded when pitching ace and first baseman Turner Larkins became less effective at the plate because of a nagging injury.
The decision on who would hit for Larkins came down to who proved his abilities each day at batting practice. Hoisager did the job.
“Right now, it’s who is hitting the best in batting practice and who is working the hardest, and as of right now he and Brandon Swaim are hitting the best in batting practice,” Culbertson said.
Not to mention that Larkins said he couldn’t be happier it was Hoisager who hit for him Friday night.
“It’s great,” Larkins said. “He’s one of my good friends, too, so I’m really proud of him.”
As Martin advances to its second straight state tournament berth, Hoisager won’t have just good batting practice to prove his worth anymore.
“He’s going to get another shot at it,” Culbertson said with a grin.