‘I’m not letting go’: QU’s Ortiz makes game-saving, diving catch in bottom of ninth

JD Ortiz

Quincy University second baseman JD Ortiz made a game-saving, diving catch in short right field to end the ninth inning and force extra innings in the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament against top-seeded Indianapolis on Friday night in Marion, Ill. | Photo courtesy Stephanie Boynton

MARION, Ill. — JD Ortiz needs to see a video replay of his diving catch to understand just how catastrophic the play could have been and just how remarkable it truly was.

All he knows is he was determined to make the play at all costs.

“I’m on the floor and my neck and my head are on the ground and I was like, ‘What the heck just happened?’” Ortiz said. “But obviously, I’m not letting go.”

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Quincy University and Indianapolis baseball teams tied at 4 in Friday night’s Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament winner’s bracket tussle, the top-seeded Greyhounds had runners on second and third base when Dakota Sill hit a flare into short right field.

Ortiz, the QU second baseman, turned and sprinted for the spot where the ball was headed, while Hawks right fielder Jake Vitale did the same.

“I think we were both calling for it,” Ortiz said.

A ball hit with similar trajectory landed out of Ortiz’s reach earlier in the game, and he thought this one might be headed for a similar no man’s land as well.

Everyone thought so.

“We had a hard angle on it,” QU designated hitter Connor Simons said. “But I’m not going to lie, we thought it was down off the bat. I was ready to start packing up.”

Ortiz refused to think that way.

“I was thinking, ‘I’m just going to go and see what happens,’” Ortiz said. “I wasn’t sure I was going to get there or if our right fielder was going to get there. So I called, ‘Ball,’ and I made the decision I just had to get there. I did, and the next thing I know I’m on the turf.”

Ortiz and Vitale collided as Ortiz made the game-saving diving catch, sending the game to extra innings. Two innings later, he scored on Connor Simons’ single as the fourth-seeded Hawks earned a 5-4 victory to stay unbeaten heading into the semifinals.

That opportunity doesn’t exist if Ortiz doesn’t make that catch.

“In big playoff games, in big postseason games, there’s something that happens that turns the tide in your direction,” QU coach Matt Schissel said. “That was one of them. It kind of electrified everybody that he held onto it and gave us a chance.”

The fact he held onto it was quite remarkable.

“In my head as I remember playing out, he was heels up, face down, but it might not have been that dramatic,” Schissel said. “But it was pretty cool.”

It saved a season.

“He made a heck of a play and held on after contact,” Simons said. “So that was awesome.”

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