It almost seemed Honeoye Falls-Lima would be harder to defeat than it is to pronounce. Almost.
Thankfully for the Grand Island Vikings, Dylan Kelly's prayer -- "Please, God" -- was answered.
Grand Island trailed 6-3 entering the bottom of the 10th inning, but the Vikings rallied to score four runs in the final frame -- capped by Kelly's walk-off, two-run single -- and advance to the state semifinals, 7-6.
It was the Class A baseball main event, the Far West Regionals, and the heavyweight bout lived up to its billing. Given Section V's recent dominance of Section VI, it was clear that Western New York's champion needed to pack a potent punch to knock out the Rochester-area contender, Honeoye (which is pronounced HONEY-oy) Falls-Lima.
The Vikings (17-7) unveiled every combination of jabs, crosses, hooks and uppercuts in their arsenal, going blow-for-blow until Kelly landed the haymaker with his team's back against the ropes.
The Vikings continually overcame adversity, as they won this game without injured star John McGinty, who is battling wrist and elbow injuries.
In wake of McGinty's injury, the southpaw Kelly took the mound and performed masterfully, spreading seven hits and three runs over eight innings of work. Left fielder Jon Voyzey, who finished 5 for 5, drove in game ball recipient Matt Lenz in the bottom of the 10th. Relief pitcher AJ Jasek drove in another run, leaving men on second and third with two outs and the Vikings trailing 6-5.
That's when Kelly stepped up and said his prayer. The lefty drilled a pitch to center, which the center fielder dove for and narrowly missed, plating the final two runs. Kelly couldn't tell if he'd just made the last out of the season or if he was the hero. It was that close. "I was too hyped up," he said.
"The feeling is indescribable," Kelly said. "It's a once in a lifetime feeling. This is definitely one of the best moments of my life by far. Words can't explain it. There's no way I can tell you how it feels."
Grand Island entered the home half of the seventh inning down 3-2 with its season on the line. However, Voyzey singled to left and was eventually brought in by a Drew Chorey sacrifice fly, tying the game at 3 and sending it to extra innings.
The Cougars (14-10) strung together an RBI double, a single, and a Jasek balk to take what seemed to be a commanding 6-3 lead in the top of the 10th.
"Being down three, especially, it just shows these guys battled all year long," said Grand Island head coach Dean Santorio. "I just give the guys a lot of credit."
Grand Island will compete in the state semifinals at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Union-Endicott High School near Binghamton against the winner of today's game between Section II's Glens Falls and III-New Hartford.