College of Idaho's Jeffrey Harris was rounding third. The 2012 NAIA West Tournament Championship was on the line and the game was in the bottom of the 10th inning. The Oaks led 5-4 with two out and Harris represented the tying run. 90 feet was all that stood between Menlo and their first ever trip to the NAIA National Championship. History was knocking at the door.
Left fielder Sam Shapiro scooped up the ball and fired a strike to relay man Coleman Cox who then whirled around and put the ball right in the glove of catcher Ty Finley. Space between the runner Harris and the Oaks' backstop existed. All that was left was the tag…and then the title.
Finley blocked off the dish and applied the leather. Pitcher James Jensen threw up his arms in triumph. A dog pile of epic proportions ensued behind home plate, and just like that Menlo was on their way to the National Championship. The Oaks won the championship, 5-4 in ten innings.
The classic clash which will be remembered for years to come, entered extra innings with the score deadlocked at 4-4. Before the idea of bonus baseball even registered, Menlo's Collin Forgey swung at the first pitch in the top of the 10th and lined a triple into the right center field gap.
With the go-ahead run just 90 feet away Michael Brandi lined a single into right, plating Forgey to give the Oaks a 5-4 advantage.
Enter James Jensen in the bottom of the inning, who came on and retired the first two batters he faced. The junior from Castro Valley induced Jarel Lewis on a groundout back to the mound and then got Tanner Hodges on a fly out to center. One out away from sealing the deal, Jensen jumped ahead of Jeffrey Harris 1-2 before Harris roped a single into center. Next stepped Jesse Dodd who smacked an 0-1 pitch threw the legs of third baseman Michael Brandi, but left fielder Sam Shapiro quickly corralled it, threw a seed to Coleman Cox, and the rest is history.
Jensen earned the save while Joey Webb behind four innings of one-run baseball notched his second win of the tournament. The Coyotes Michael Garza was saddled with the loss despite allowing just one earned over 4.2 innings of work.
The final dramatics capped off what was a truly remarkable game from start to finish. Menlo broke the scoreless tie in the top of the 3rd inning with a one out RBI triple off the bat of Taylor Cohn, followed by a Forgey sacrifice fly to put the Oaks ahead 2-0.
College of Idaho came back with one in the 3rd on a RBI single from Brett Ward and then took the lead in the bottom of the 5th behind a sacrifice fly from Todd Griffiths and a run-scoring single from Izaac Garsez. The Coyotes did their early damage of Kyer Vega, who was more than effective in his first career playoff start. The sophomore from Los Gatos threw five innings of three hit baseball, surrendering two earned in picking up a no-decision.
With the Oaks down 3-2 in the top of the 6th, Menlo put runners on second and third with only one out. Michael Brandi led off the frame with a double which was followed by a Will Pierce walk. C.J. Dailey moved both runners over on a sacrifice bunt, the final pitch thrown by starting hurler Zachary Fabricius.
The sophomore from Fruitland, Idaho did not factor in the decision after going 5.1 innings and allowing four earned on seven hits.
In came the aforementioned Michael Garza and immediately the Oaks wrestled back their lead. Coleman Cox, who tore the cover off the ball the entire Tournament, laced a two-run go ahead double propelling Menlo to a 4-3 edge.
College of Idaho knotted up the score in the bottom of the 6th with an RBI single off the bat of Fabricius, the only blemish on Webb's gutty performance.
With the thrilling victory Menlo wins their first ever playoff tournament championship and marches to the program's first ever National Championship appearance. The Oaks won four one-run games in Portland, including two in extra innings, and three when facing elimination.