Dougie Williams expected the avalanche and, man, did he get it.
We're not talking runs for the opposition. We're talking the variety that features bodies of teammates, who have just exploded off the bench, or run in from their positions, to pummel you to the ground because you've just pitched your baseball squad to a surprising victory.
On second thought, surprising doesn't quite cut it. Let's go with shocking.
The Public League groups its baseball divisions by teams' supposed ability, and Engineering and Science finished tied for fifth in C at 6-5. Friday, for a Class AAA quarterfinal, that meant the Engineers had to travel to the upper reaches of Roxborough, the area, to meet Roxborough, the school, which had earned a tie for second in B at 8-2.
E&S triumphed, 7-5, which was why Williams, a 5-10, 155-pound senior lefthander, was rushed by ecstatic Engineers moments after recording a game-ending strikeout.
While watching the E&S guys celebrate, the Indians waited not-so-patiently near the plate for the traditional exchange of handshakes. Finally, one guy muttered, "Stop! It's the first round."
Nearby, behind a restraining fence, was the parent of an E&S player. Altering a chant that had been yelled through much of the game by Roxborough's players after pitches by Williams missed the strike zone, the guy bellowed, "Did we win the game?! . . . Did we get 'em?! . . . Yeah, I thought so!"
"I expected to get [swamped]," Williams said, "because the intensity was high the whole game. I pushed hard through that seventh inning. The team kept me going.
"Winning on the road, I like it better. Silence the crowd."
As recently as Tuesday, when trying his best to stay confident, Williams would have pictured himself maybe squeezing the last out on a fly to leftfield. But on Wednesday, coach Gene Carboni told Williams to prepare for a mound start.
"Coach said he was going with me because of my pickoff move," Williams said.
Said Carboni: "He's right. That's why. He and David Tucker are pretty much co-No. 1s. I went with Doug, because he's a lefty and has a really good move. I figured he'd limit their running game."
Check! The Indians had only one steal, and Williams picked off a potential thief. Overall, he allowed six hits, three of which came in a four-run fifth that enabled Roxborough to storm within 7-5. The Engineers also committed three errors in that inning, so the picture was not exactly looking rosy.
No sweat. Williams rolled through a 1-2-3 sixth, then whiffed the final two hitters in the seventh (after he'd committed one of two more miscues) to double his strikeout total.
"I've heard I throw hard, but I don't even know . . . Not officially," Williams said, laughing. "I've never been clocked. I just try to put the ball over the plate [he walked two] and rely on the fielders behind me."
When asked to pinpoint his favorite position, Williams at first mentioned leftfield. He then switched to pitcher, while acknowledging he has struggled at the plate this season. He went 0-for-2 in the fifth slot, but did lay down a pair of successful sacrifices.
Guilty of Overconfidence Syndrome, Roxborough coach Bob Stowman used his No. 2 starter, Frank Legrady, with the hope of saving ace Ralph Martinez for Monday's next round. E&S jumped on Legrady for an immediate three-spot, though all of those runs were unearned.
Martinez moved from shortstop to the mound one batter into the third. He mowed down 10 while allowing three hits, but had a key error in a four-run fifth. Scott Ervin started that frame with a ringing double to right-center. Gus Jenkins, Shakore Bragg-Taylor and January "Hot Dog" Llaverias (second of game) had RBI. By the way, via a cooperative sponsorship, Ervin and Jenkins played football for Simon Gratz.
For Roxborough, Pete Hall went 3-for-4, Martinez crunched an RBI double that might have been a homer if not for strong, swirling winds, and Kevin Yeager bagged two RBI.
With a 3.72 GPA, Williams ranks 39th among E&S' seniors, and he's headed for Kutztown with designs on becoming an electrical engineer. He lives on Tulip near Magee, in Mayfair, and nearby are a whole bunch of baseball/softball fields.
"That's how I got started with baseball," he said. "They had neighborhood games there every Sunday morning. Just show up and play."
Pretty much like Friday. And the result turned out to be wonderful.
Contact Ted Silary at firstname.lastname@example.org. Online high school coverage at philly.com/rally.