Chris Collins had a .166 batting average entering Racine Kiwanis’ first-round Land O’ Lakes League playoff game against the Waterford Rivermen on Friday night.
But that didn’t stop Kiwanis coach Jack Schiestle from playing him in the team’s biggest game of the season.
“I just had a feeling with Chris tonight,” Schiestle said. “This is a kid that is very observant during every game and I knew he was going to come up big for us.”
Collins had two huge hits — including an eventual game-winning two-run single in the top of the ninth inning — as the Kiwanis came from behind to beat Waterford 7-6 at Waterford.
The Rivermen, the No. 3 seed in the playoffs, scored two runs in the first inning, one in the third, and three more in the fifth to take a 6-2 lead into the eighth inning.
Collins entered the game in the eighth as a pinch hitter and singled to spark a rally for Kiwanis. Racine made it 6-3 as Ben Randow singled home K.J. Banse.
“I think Waterford was pretty confident going into the ninth up three runs,” Schiestle said. “But I knew our group wasn’t going to give up.”
In the ninth, Alec Spang drove in two runs to cut the deficit to 6-5. Spang went 4-for-5 on the night. Then Collins stepped up to the plate with runners on second and third base, looking to at least drive in the tying run. He ripped a single to right field scoring both runners.
Matt Steinhoff shut the door in relief for Kiwanis, throwing four scoreless innings and striking out five batters.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the way these kids played tonight,” Schiestle said. “They played with their hearts and never quit for a second.”
The Kiwanis will take on the top-seeded Burlington Barons at noon Sunday at Beaumont Field in Burlington.