There was no panic on Dec. 28.
And there was certainly none on Tuesday when the freshman pitched the game of his life, leading Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor to its first Arizona high school state baseball championship.
Barrett Skaugrud wasn’t just feeling fortunate to be given the ball in the biggest game in school history but to be alive to experience it.
The unflappable 6-foot Skaugrud, all 135 pounds of him, went the distance, not walking a batter, scattering nine hits and leading the Eagles to 7-1 6A championship victory over rival Glendale Mountain Ridge before close to 5,000 fans at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
“God has a plan for me pretty much,” Skaugrud said.
He came to that conclusion on Dec. 28 when a bullet from a 9mm pistol went through his neck, coming a millimeter from striking his spinal cord and just missing his carotid artery.
At a friend’s house, Barrett said he was coming out of the bathroom when his friend was showing off the gun and it accidentally discharged.
“Barrett never fell down,” said Cam Skaugrud, Barrett’s dad. “He held his neck and said, ‘Hey, man, I think you shot me, someone needs to call 911.’ The next thing you know, he’s on his way to the emergency room.”
Barrett said he was stitched up and out of the hospital in three hours.
“I didn’t feel it,” Barrett said. “I grabbed a towel and covered it and called 911. It was pretty shocking. It didn’t seem real at first.”
How lucky was he?
“That weekend we were headed to Seattle to see the Cardinals play,” Cam said. “The doctor gave me a stat. He said of the 75,000 people who will be in the stadium, three or four walk alive after this wound.”
Cam was concerned about the 15-year-old Barrett’s mental well-being afterwards, but he said he saw no signs of that.
“We were seeing if he needed to do counseling for post-traumatic stress,” Cam said. “Two weeks later, he tries out for O’Connor and makes the varsity baseball team.”
The finish was the stuff of dreams. After getting the last out, teammates mobbed him and lifted him on their shoulders in celebration.
“This was an eye-opening experience for him and really helped him to refocus on what is important to him and the people he surrounds himself with,” coach Jeff Baumgartner said. “God blessed him with another chance and he is taking advantage of it.”
To be able to contribute to the title with his older brother Mason, 17, a junior, made the night even more special for Barrett. Mason’s two-run single late in the game gave his brother insurance.
After SDO won its Saturday game to move into Tuesday’s final, coach Jeff Baumgartner told Barrett that he was going to start on the mound.