DAVIS — After battling just to make it to Monday, Davis was playing with house money. The Wolves had nothing to lose.
In a deciding game against Stroud — with the winner off to the Class 3A state tournament — Davis' offense posted a monster inning and pitcher Alec Hethrington escaped jam after jam. With two outs to go and a four-run lead, the Wolves were in good shape.
And just like that, Stroud stole the dream.
The Tigers strung together back-to-back RBI singles and Chipper Clovis launched a three-run walk-off home run to stun Davis 10-9 on Monday in their Class 3A regional championship game.
Davis scored eight of its nine runs in an explosive third inning, but did little to back up Hetherington in the other innings. Davis stranded 11 runners on base, something that couldn't keep up if the Wolves were going to take down the No. 9 team in the state.
"We probably let a few chances get away," Davis coach Micah Noland said. "When you've got a team like Stroud that's lost (four) games all year long, you knew they were gonna make a run."
After losing its first game of the regional on Thursday, Davis did well just to make its run to the final. The Wolves lost their opener to Little Axe but went on to beat Washington, Little Axe and Stroud over two days to force a rematch with Stroud for the state berth.
Davis (26-9) beat Stroud 10-9 on Saturday to keep its season alive. Stroud (27-4) reversed that score on Monday with its stunning last stand, finally getting the best of Hetherington on a gutsy day from the senior righty.
Hetherington gave up 11 hits, walked four, hit three batters and struck out 11 over seven innings. After pitching a complete game in a 5-3 win against Washington on Friday, Davis needed to win two more games just to give its ace a chance at sending the school to state for the first time in its history.
"Alec threw well," Noland said. "He'd thrown a lot on Friday and we talked a lot about it today. We decided this was his game."
After falling behind 3-0 in the first inning, Davis struck back in the third. Hunter White and Jordan Wilson drew back-to-back walks to lead off and Hetherington brought them both home with a two-run double to center field off Stroud starter Greg Hyde.
Until that point, Hyde was keeping Davis at bay with a power fastball, but the Wolves hitters worked the Stroud ace in the third. Hunter Karlik tied the game with an RBI triple and Payton Brewer put Davis ahead for the first time with an RBI single.
Braden Ruth hit a two-run double, Ethan Tomlinson laid down a RBI sacrifice bunt and Ruth stole home on a ball in the dirt to cap Davis' eight-run top of the third. But the Wolves' offense was inconsistent in the other frames, with the only other run coming on a Tomlinson sacrifice fly in the fourth.
Hetherington finished 3-for-4 with a double and a triple. Four of Davis' seven hits came in the third inning.
"We scored 13 against Little Axe, 10 against Stroud (Saturday) and nine today — that's a lot of runs," Noland said. "But that's a credit to them (Stroud) today. Nine runs wasn't enough to beat them today."
Trailing 9-3 in the fourth, Clovis came through with an RBI triple and J.T. Freeman added a run-scoring single to cut Stroud's deficit to 9-5. The teams then went scoreless for two frames, with Davis stranding five runners in that stretch — including loading the bases with one out in the sixth.
In the bottom of the seventh with one out, Grant Powell and Hyde hit consecutive singles to bring the Tigers to within one swing from winning the game.
Clovis (3-for-5) connected, sending Hetherington's delivery over the left-field fence to end Davis' season and extend Stroud's.
"It's the closest we've ever been to the state tournament," Noland said. "We've got nine seniors and I wanted it for them most of all."
Follow Horne on Twitter: @ekhorneARD