Every night since he was 12 years old, Chet Bowling said, he has lain in his bed at his La Plata home and imagined himself at the plate in the tensest situation: bases loaded, two outs and two strikes.

On Friday afternoon in the Maryland 2A championship game, Bowling’s dreams became a reality. With his La Plata baseball team trailing by a run, Bowling was at the plate with the bases loaded, two outs and two strikes.

And just like in his dreams, this situation had a happy ending. Bowling’s walk-off hit, a two-run single through the middle, secured La Plata’s 8-7 win over Sparrows Point at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf.

“You live for this stuff, but you don’t overhype it,” Bowling said. “You dream about it. You take a deep breath, calm down and relax. It’s the same game whether it’s states, playoffs, regular season.”

Bowling’s walk-off seemed unlikely in the top of the sixth inning, when Sparrows Point (11-3) jumped out to a 7-1 lead. La Plata Coach John Childers worried about his team’s pitching and defense entering this season, and that inexperience showed early on.

La Plata’s comeback began in the bottom of the sixth. Infielder Robbie Shelton hit a three-run double to bring the Warriors (17-1) within three runs.

La Plata pitcher Colby Murphy retired the side in the top of the seventh. Then, in the bottom of the inning, La Plata loaded the bases before two walks brought in a pair of runs and Bowling stepped to the plate. Childers admitted Bowling is not usually patient, but the junior didn’t swing at the first two pitches, which were called strikes.

Bowling stepped away from the plate, took a deep breath and reentered the box. Then he made contact with a fastball. Third baseman Brett Michael scored, and outfielder Jacob Pahel, running from second base, ran into Sparrow Point’s third baseman while turning for home. The junior had no idea where the ball was, but he just kept running until he slid into home plate and an umpire ruled him safe. Then he turned around and joined his teammates near the mound to form a dogpile on top of Bowling.

“I took two [pitches] I shouldn’t have, and I did the best I could with the pitch I got,” said Bowling, whom Childers called one of the state’s best players. “I hit it up the middle, and when you hit it up the middle, good things happen.”

Read more: