Will Lane had the ball in his hand, the game on the line and history in front of him.
His coach, Valley Christian coach Rick Surls, decided to pay a visit to the mound and delivered the message.
"He came out and told me that (the batter) didn't compare to me," Lane said of the final batter of his high school career. "It was all I needed to hear."
Lane then struck out the Scottsdale Christian batter to give the Trojans the Class 2A state baseball title, the first in school history.
"The (celebration in the infield) was almost surreal," the Ahwatukee Foothills resident said. "I didn't think I'd cry but I did, tears of joy. I was so happy for everyone after the things we've gone through over the four years."
Lane, whose brother, Andy, is the bullpen coach for the Cubs, did his part to make sure it came to fruition as the senior right-hander threw a complete game in the Trojans' 8-7 win over rival Scottsdale Christian.
He allowed 10 hits, four walks, six earned runs with nine strikeouts.
"We talked about getting someone ready," Surls said. "Then he mowed them down in the fifth and sixth and we figured with an 8-4 lead it was his game to lose."
Scottsdale Christian made a final inning rally, but Lane stepped up and got the final out for the win to give his teammates, including Ahwatukee residents Jeff Paschke and Matt Batlle, the final step they were seeking.
"We wanted a banner for the gym," Lane said. "One on the left (where state championship banners hang) and not on the right (where state runner-up banners hang). That's why before the game we said "Left" in the team huddle."
Paschke didn't get a hit in the championship game to see his 33-game hitting streak, dating back to last season, come to end, but the Trojans are not in the game if it wasn't for him. He finished the year with a .620 batting average (62 for 100) with 17 home runs, the second most in 2A history behind teammate Ryan Cooper's 19, and a 2A state-record 72 RBIs.
"He had an incredible season," Surls said. "It is one of the best ever and he was frustrated that he didn't get anything to hit (in the title game) and started swinging outside of the zone just so he could contribute."
Batlle came back from a hand injury to play in the postseason and finish with a .305 average with 18 RBIs.
"He came back strong and gave us a spark," Surls said.
Lane, who works with former Diamondback reliever Mike Fetters and expects to play at junior college, had a strong finish to the season to end up 8-2 with 68 strikeouts and 30 walks and a 3.66 ERA in 59 1/3 innings.
He came into the season expected to be the ace, but struggled early on and had an ERA of 5.86 through his first five appearances, covering 20 1/3 innings.
"It was mechanical and he was changing his delivery so it led to some wildness," Surls said. "Once he made the adjustments the control came back, followed by the strikes and his confidence."
Over his next seven appearances, after checking notes from sessions with Fetters, his ERA was 1.75 over 32 innings heading into the title game.
"I was completely honored to get the ball for the title game," he said. "There were so many people waiting for us to get that first title. There was pressure and I was throwing too hard trying to be the hero, but my teammates scored me a lot of runs. There was no way I was going to let them down."
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