Winthrop freshman Bennett Jordan, scheduled to lead off the ninth inning of a tied ballgame, sat down beside another rookie and listened before he picked up his bat.
If you get ahead, pitcher Cam Walters reportedly said, look for that hanging fastball and hit a walk-off.
Jordan's only hitting .241, but he's batting 1.000 in following directions.
The York native torched a 2-1 fastball over the left-field fence on Saturday for a walk-off home run, sending Winthrop to a 5-4 win over High Point and sweet retribution after an offensively dismal performance in the series' first game. Jordan followed Walters' instructions to the letter, waiting on R.J. Chlebnikow to mess up, and when he did, collected his first collegiate homer.
"That's my job, just to get on base," Jordan said, still grinning from the memory of watching left fielder Max Fulginiti futilely leap for the trees-bound ball. "I was just looking for something to drive."
Jordan's blast was the first extra-base hit of his career. He began watching the flight as he dropped his bat and started up the line, cutting the bag and pumping his fist once he saw it disappear.
He got home for the waiting mob scene and got his first taste of another tradition soon after. While Jordan was answering questions, first baseman Eddie Tisdale snuck up and rammed a shaving cream-filled towel into the freshman's face.
"I was sitting beside Cam before I went out ..." Jordan began before the towel collided and his teammates began howling. Still digging in his ear after trying to clean himself up, he relayed the story of Walters' instructions.
"I can't hardly hear ... " he said. "Cam said to me, 'Hey man, if he leaves it hanging, just hit a walk-off.'"
Done and done.
The rally completed a back-and-forth game where the Eagles (14-20, 4-4 Big South Conference) came back from a 3-0 deficit only to lose a 4-3 lead in the eighth inning. Freshman starter Hamilton Bennett, who stood to finally win his first collegiate game after seven straight losing starts, watched as his 'W' vanished to three eighth-inning batters.
The rookie sucked it up and turned to his teammates, saying he had faith they could win the game. Jordan, who reported to campus with Bennett and Walters last year, took it to heart.
"Just as good as a win," Bennett said. "I knew we would come back and win it because that's what we've been taught all year."
Trailing 3-2 in the seventh, the Eagles accomplished that goal. Tisdale led off with a double to left and Hudak pinch-hit Tyler McBride, who tried once unsuccessfully to get a bunt down. McBride got a new signal and turned on an inside pitch, driving it past first base for a game-tying knock.
Jordan laid a sacrifice bunt to get McBride to second and Aaron Bonomi delivered a single to right, just short enough to keep McBride at third. With only one out and leadoff man Bryn Henderson at the plate, third-base coach Mike McGuire flashed the squeeze sign.
Henderson dropped the ball midway between home and first and pitcher Jeremy Berg pounced, throwing home as McBride hit the dirt. McBride's foot hit the plate a millisecond before catcher Billy Alvino applied the tag and the Eagles led 4-3.
Robert Lake came in to preserve the lead but was rapped for two singles, the last driving in the tying run. Closer Josh McDonald entered in the ninth to retire the last batter and turned into the winning pitcher when Jordan's blast left a vapor trail over left.