With his head hanging in disappointment, a teary-eyed Evan Poo of Catholic High stood on the sidelines after the third inning of the Schools National C Division boys' softball final at River Valley High School yesterday.
Just moments earlier, with his school trailing 3-1 to Raffles Institution, the 13-year-old saw his fly ball caught in the bottom of the third inning.
But, with two more innings to go, the pitcher knew he could not dwell on his mistake and had to focus on what was ahead.
"I was down, but I realised then that I needed to play properly, hold them from scoring and allow our team to bat as fast as possible. That was my motivation to pitch my best," he told The Straits Times.
When he returned to the pitcher's rubber, he varied his pitches, and together with tight fielding from his teammates, Catholic High shut Raffles out in the fourth inning.
Catholic High then turned the game around with four runs, thanks to hits by Jotham Yeo and Jevan Sia in the same inning to seal a 5-3 win and their fourth C Div title in five years.
To think that Evan was not even the team's first-choice pitcher till last week.
DOWN BUT NOT OUT
I was down, but I realised then that I needed to play properly and hold them from scoring and allow our team to bat as fast as possible.
EVAN POO, Catholic High pitcher, on shutting out Raffles Institution in the fourth inning.
While he had played as a pitcher during his primary school days, the Secondary 1 student played mainly as a fielder this season, until the first-choice pitcher injured himself last week.
He initially doubted himself when asked to step up, saying: "I kept saying to myself there's a lot of pressure, that I couldn't do it. I eventually listened to the people around me who were telling me that I could do it and I needed to step up and play the best I could."
To calm himself down, he tried picturing himself in training instead of the competition setting.
Coach Koh Ruoh Jie praised Evan, saying: "He managed to control his nerves, go back into the game, pitch well and get the outs.
"It's not easy to be composed all the way, especially in the last inning."
While disappointed, Raffles captain Tao Kobayashi was proud of his team's achievement.
The 14-year-old said: "This season was good because everyone played their best. There were many tight games, some games we trailed and came back. We, unfortunately, couldn't do that today and maintain our (lead).
"Catholic High was good. Even when they were feeling down they were still positive. But for us, we couldn't maintain that momentum and concentration from the fourth inning."