Tuesday night at Mack Shupe Field, he made maximum use of the one he got.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Collins looped a pinch-hit single down the right field line. His clutch lick scored Ryan Kommes to seal the Warriors’ 12-11 win over John Battle in the first round of the Region D, Division 2 baseball tournament.
“That was crazy, and this has been a crazy game,” said Collins, who spent most of the game serving as catcher Logan Johnson’s courtesy runner.
“I don’t play much. I’m more of a utility player. I run the bases and I come in to hit when I need to. It just all fell into place tonight,” said Collins, who was on tap to pitch in the ninth, if necessary.
“A game-winner is always big. When the stakes are this high, this just makes everything better.”
The Warriors (12-8) advanced to face Gate City (6-18) in Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. semifinal game at Virginia High. The Blue Devils upset the top-seeded Bearcats 5-4.
Central trailed 5-1 midway through the fourth. The Warriors overtook the Trojans 6-5 in the fifth but appeared gone for good after Battle poured on six runs in the sixth off two errors and three hits — including a three-RBI double from Robert Luchini.
Central, which had 10 hits, kept chipping away at Battle, a traditional postseason rival of the old J.J. Kelly program.
The Warriors scored two runs in the sixth off Matt Sullivan to trim the Trojans’ lead to three.
Battle closer Cody Rogers (0-1) stepped on the rubber in the seventh looking for a save. What he got instead was shelled for four hits — including doubles by Kommes and Mark Dotson — and Central knotted up the game at 11.
Warriors starter Nate Thompson (8-2) pitched 5 2-3 innings before yielding the hill to reliever Jake Flanary. Thompson returned in the top of the eighth to relieve Ryan Mullins and retired the Trojans in order.
“If you’d told us we’d give up 11 runs today, I’d have lost my house. Our pitchers have done a great job for us all season long,” said Central coach Brian Mills, who got doubles from Johnson and Tyler Mullins. “But John Battle swung the bats. They really hit the ball.”
Seth Cunningham had three hits for the Trojans (11-12). Austin Widener had two hits and Rogers had a double.