And Diaz, a four-year member of the varsity baseball squad, put forth an Oscar-worthy performance.
The veteran infielder belted a walk-off 3 RBI triple as the Panthers stunned their rivertown rivals, 5-4, in a game that packed in more excitement and emotion than the final season of Game of Thrones.
It also marked the program’s first-ever victory over Hackley, which traveled to Clarke Field for Masters’ annual Senior Game.
“I think I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life,” Diaz said. “It’s the type of story I’ll tell to my children. I never imagined I’d be put in that position. It was a movie, essentially.”
The cameras started rolling with Masters trailing 4-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh. Ben Miller ’19 got the rally started with a leadoff double. Ethan Schlapp ’22 and Shane Halpin ’19 then worked back-to-back walks, loading the bases while forcing Hackley to make a pitching change. Harrison Blueweiss ’22 came up next and got Masters on the board, roping an RBI single that scored Ben Miller. Carter Myers-Brown followed with a walk that sent Halpin home from third and set the stage for Diaz’s heroics.
Diaz trudged into the batter’s box looking for redemption, as he was hitless in his previous three at-bats.
“The Hackley pitcher threw me two straight balls and the third one I saw was coming right over the outside corner and I told myself that I wasn’t going to miss this one,” Diaz said, noting it was a fastball. “The past three at-bats I was just under it. Luckily, I swung at it and it went over the right fielder’s head and everyone came home.”
Diaz, who is usually a pull hitter, unleashed a mammoth 300-foot opposite field blast that ignited a memorable celebration with teammates and fans alike.
“My first hit on the field this season was a triple to right field, too,” Diaz said. “It was a great way to begin and end the season. And this was my second walk-off (hit), but it was the first one that actually meant something. With this group of people who I’ve been playing with for four years now, it was great that I did it for my family.”
Myers-Brown was a steady presence throughout for the Panthers, pitching all seven innings while going 3-for-3 at the plate. Justin Small ’21 added a single, while Aidan McLaren ’22 had a double to round out the offensive production.
Masters also recorded victories over Columbia Prep, Loyola, Staten Island Academy, Friends and Browning during a stellar 2019 campaign.
“We had good leadership between myself, Myers-Brown, Halpin and Daneal Senderovich ’19,” Diaz said of the team’s formula for success. “We had some pretty high standards for the team. There was a sense of camaraderie on the team. Everyone was really close together, picking each other up and giving each other tips whenever we could. People would stay after practice to get in some extra hacks and fielding work. With the overall effort that we put in, it made this season different.”