One of the most touching incidents of the high school baseball season unfolded in Minnesota on Saturday when Mounds View and Totino-Grace faced off to determine which squad would reach the state championship.
With Mounds View leading 17-10, the Mounds called on pitcher Ty Koehn to close out the win. With two outs Totino-Grace’s Jack Kocon walked to the plate hoping to extend his team’s season for at least another at-bat.
It didn’t happen, Koehn punching out Kocon with a perfectly placed outside corner fastball. Kocon watched the strike sail by, then assumed he would have to trudge off the field to commiserate with his teammates.
Instead, Koehn rushed past his celebrating catcher to hug and congratulate Kocon on a great season. It was a touching moment, and one which was brought on by a much longer relationship.
You can see two different views of the touching strikeout above and below.
As noted by Minnesota sports site Bring Me The News, Koehn and Kocon played together in the Shoreview Area Youth Baseball League, then maintained a close friendship as they headed off to high school.
“I knew the game was going to keep going or it was going to end right there,” Koehn told Bring Me The News. “I knew I had to say something. Our friendship is more important than just the silly outcome of a game. I had to make sure he knew that before we celebrated.
“It was more instinct, it just felt right.”
It looked right, too, confirmation that at least two highly successful Minnesota players have learned precisely the type of sportsmanship lessons parents hope their children pick up during youth sports. In doing so, even though Mounds View eliminated Totino-Grace, they probably gained some fans for the rest of their playoff run.