PRAIRIE CITY — Dillon Bruxvoort reinvented the hidden ball trick Monday night.
No pick-off throw was used in his rendition but rather a towering home run lost in the night sky. Bruxvoort drilled a head-high pitch with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning that landed unseen by many over the right-center field fence, eliciting a delayed celebration by the Prairie City-Monroe Mustangs and a 3-1 win against South Hamilton.
"I shouldn't have swung at it because it was above my head," Bruxvoort said. "When I hit it, I saw it go up, but I never saw it come down. I was just running the bases because the outfielders looked like they had no clue where the ball went and then all the guys started running on the field so I figured it was a homer."
PCM first base coach Jeff Lindsay was the first to verbalize what everyone discovered moments after Bruxvoort's blast. Lindsay shouted, "They don't see it" from the coach's box, sending pinch-runner Ron Marshall, who had initially headed back to second base to tag up on the play, towards home for the winning run.
Bruxvoort, who ran hard through first base on his way to second, slowed down and then raised his arms over his head before reaching third as his teammates, now realizing they had won the game after Lindsay announced the ball was gone, cued the senior he had delivered a walk-off home run.
"When I looked out there and [the center fielder and right fielder] both stood in their place and they put their hands up looking up in the air, I saw neither of them were going to get to it," Lindsay said. "I yelled, 'Run, run, they don't see it,' and then I saw it land over the fence and said, 'Game over. It doesn't matter anyway.'"
Both South Hamilton center fielder JD Redar and right fielder Nate McSparin, the nearest to the ball on the play, acknowledged after the game they never saw the ball in flight until it was past them.
"Right as it hit the bat, I didn't even see it ... I was just running back and we couldn't see it. We just kind of went like this to each other," McSparin said, raising his hands, palms up, towards his shoulders.
Added Redar: "I had no idea where it was ... As soon as it hit the ground, I heard it."
Bruxvoort's two-run homer rewarded sophomore pitcher Austin Brown with a win for his stellar performance. Brown threw a complete-game three-hitter and struck out nine, his highest total since fanning 14 in the season opener.
The walk-off home run capped what was mostly a pitchers' duel Monday night. South Hamilton starter Trey Woodall also lasted seven innings on the mound in what was his longest outing of the season.
Woodall also allowed only three hits. The first gave PCM a 1-0 lead when Mustang senior Glenn Gillespie drilled a solo home run well beyond the left-center field fence in the second inning.
South Hamilton tied the game two innings later on a squeeze bunt by Landon Quam that scored Redar from third.
Brown sustained that tie when South Hamilton threatened in the sixth. The lefty stranded Caleb Olson on third base to end the inning after Olson reached third with only one out.
That helped set the scene for the seventh, which started with Gillespie reaching base via a walk before Bruxvoort's homer.
"The ball was probably as high as it was far from what we could tell," PCM head coach Shaun Hudnut said of Bruxvoort's home run. "I didn't even see where it went out. I just assumed it was in the gap and they lost it."
Bruxvoort, a left-handed batter, didn't go out for baseball as a sophomore and junior. He focused on basketball during that time, which he'll continue playing in college after signing with Northwestern College this past March.
"I've played at state in basketball and stuff and I've hit game winning shots, but this tops all that," he said. "That was more crazy than any 3-pointer I've ever hit, for sure. That was awesome."