Cut Minnetonka coach Paul Twenge some slack. In his four-plus decades as a baseball coach, and a highly successful one, he's certainly earned it.
Minnetonka took a 4-3 walkoff victory over Mounds View on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A baseball state tournament at CHS Field, winning when catcher Maxwell Pederson's double to left-center scored Colten Benedict from first base in the bottom of the seventh inning.
As dramatic as the victory was, for many Minnetonka fans it was more heart-stopping than it needed to be.
As Benedict approached third base, the winning run seemed a sure thing. Twenge, who was coaching third base, raised his arms in celebration.
Benedict, who had tied the game 3-3 with an opposite-field home run in the fifth inning, saw Twenge's arms in the air and thought he was being held up.
For a brief moment, fans gasped. What was going on?
"I thought he was holding me up," Benedict said. "Then I saw that I still had time and I went [home]."
Twenge admitted, with a broad smile, that he may have celebrated a moment too soon.
"I was a little over excited at the end there," Twenge said. "I put my arms up. He thought I meant stop. But we had a really good read and the ball wasn't there, so I said, 'We gotta go, we gotta go.' Thank God the throw was high. It could have been disastrous."
Mounds View took the early lead in the fourth inning on Metro Player of the Year Drew Rogers' two-run home run to left. Ryan Counihan added an RBI single later in the inning to give the Mustangs a 3-0 lead.
Minnetonka (18-7) scored two of its own in the bottom of the fourth, when Jacob McCuskey drove a two-run double down the left field line.
Twenge talked about his team's resilience in battling back from the deficit.
"Augie Garrido, the longtime college coach, used to say, 'It's not one nine-inning game. It's nine one-inning games,' " Twenge said. "So we put that into seven innings. If you look at it like you're way down, you're not going to get it. You just play each inning."