In the vast library of amateur baseball highlights, you’d be hard-pressed to come up with a weirder — or more touching — highlight than this one.
On Wednesday night, two Minnesota high school baseball teams were facing each other in a regional championship game. The winner would go on to the state tournament, and the loser would go home. The team from Mounds View High School celebrated like crazy after they won 4-0 over Totino-Grace High School — except for one Mounds View player.
How often do you see the winning pitcher walk away from a team celebration to hug the losing batter? I’m willing to bet never. Here’s another angle of the end-of-game hug:
According to Joe Nelson at Bring Me The News, the winning pitcher and hugger was Ty Koehn, and the batter was Jack Kocon. The two have been close friends since their early teens, which gives the hug a lot more context. Nelson spoke to Koehn about the hug, and Koehn revealed that his friendship with Kocon was the only thing on his mind when he dealt that final pitch.
Winning a spot at the state championship was important, but to Koehn, making sure he reached out to his friend in a difficult moment was more important. There would be time to celebrate, but he only had that one moment to comfort his friend when he needed it most.
Mounds View coach Mark Downey was proud of his star pitcher, as you might expect.
Coach Downey might not have been surprised by Koehn’s act of sportsmanship, but it’s still a weird thing to see. A pitcher wins an important game and walks away from his celebrating teammates to comfort the batter he just struck out? That’s truly rare. But it’s a testament to the power of friendship, and a reminder that for kids, baseball can still be just a game.