close
close

Willard’s baseball coach turned to his son for the pinch-hit game winner in the state championship game

OZARK — Throughout his life, Jarrett McGee has seen his father as a coach of sorts, whether they were on or off the diamond.

It was no different when his father, Willard head baseball coach Scott McGee, told him to get ready to go in because he needed a hit. The Class 5 state championship game was tied at one in the top of the sixth inning and the Tigers needed a big game.

“He’s coached me pretty much my whole life,” Jarrett McGee said. “I’ve heard that a lot in my life.”

The sophomore scored the most important at-bat of the season. With two outs and two runners in scoring position, the Webster Groves student section sang “Daddy’s Boy,” something he is used to hearing. It didn’t matter. The countless hours spent in the batting cage with his father were building up to this moment.

On the fifth pitch he saw, Jarrett McGee hit a hard grounder into the middle of the infield. It found the hole and rolled to the outfield. Both runs scored when McGee raised his fists in the air and the Tigers exploded out of the dugout in celebration.

More: Willard baseball wins its second state championship in four years by defeating Webster Groves

Willard's Jarrett McGee is swarmed by teammates after hitting a 2-run double late in the game to help the team defeat the Webster Groves Statesmen in the Class 5 state championship game at the Ozark Mountain Sports Complex on Saturday, June 1, 2024.Willard's Jarrett McGee is swarmed by teammates after hitting a 2-run double late in the game to help the team defeat the Webster Groves Statesmen in the Class 5 state championship game at the Ozark Mountain Sports Complex on Saturday, June 1, 2024.

Willard’s Jarrett McGee is swarmed by teammates after hitting a 2-run double late in the game to help the team defeat the Webster Groves Statesmen in the Class 5 state championship game at the Ozark Mountain Sports Complex on Saturday, June 1, 2024.

It proved to be the winning goal as the Tigers added two more runs before claiming a 5-1 victory and taking home their second state championship in four years.

Jarrett McGee was pinched and he returned to the dugout. His teammates harassed him because they knew what the goal might mean. His father, who was the third base coach, looked at the scoreboard and realized what might have happened.

“As soon as that second point was crossed and I looked at the scoreboard and saw that we were up 3-1 with six outs to go, you think, ‘Hey, your own son might have just pinch hit to get into the game. to ride.’ winning point,” said Scott McGee.

The realization lasted a few seconds before the head coach remembered there were six outs to go. There wasn’t too much concern because of the way senior Kaelin Adams had thrown and the extra runs brought home by the bats of Jacob Hearon and Levi Hilton.

Outside of the ball hitting Peyton Gayer’s glove up the middle for the final out, there was no moment more magical than the McGees’ combination for the biggest moment of the championship.

More: Speeches, bus rides and Katy Perry: behind the scenes at Willard’s top baseball

The Willard Tigers celebrate after winning the Class 5 state championship game against the Webster Groves Statesmen with a win at Ozark Mountain Sports Complex on Saturday, June 1, 2024.The Willard Tigers celebrate after winning the Class 5 state championship game against the Webster Groves Statesmen with a win at Ozark Mountain Sports Complex on Saturday, June 1, 2024.

The Willard Tigers celebrate after winning the Class 5 state championship game against the Webster Groves Statesmen with a win at Ozark Mountain Sports Complex on Saturday, June 1, 2024.

“Jared has come through in some pretty tight situations for us this year,” Adams said. “We had confidence in him the whole time. Once we hit the ball up the middle, he was there when we knew we had him locked up at that point.”

Jarrett McGee was happy to come through for his team. In the moments after the match, he realized that one swing was a moment he will remember for the rest of his life. It was a goal of his to be in that situation when he skipped a basketball tournament to watch his father coach Willard to its first state title in 2021. It’s now a goal of him to help Willard come back.

Once the championship trophy was hoisted, Scott McGee went down the line of his Willard Tigers and placed first place medals around his players’ necks.

The one he placed around his son’s neck was a little sweeter.

“It’s so hard being the coach’s kid, especially my kid,” Scott McGee said. “He had to overcome a lot of things and for him to get through it at that moment was very special for him, for me and my wife.”

This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Willard baseball wins state championship thanks to coach’s son’s pinch hit