Television cameras focused on almost every Washington Nationals player when Daniel Hudson struck out Michael Brantley for the final out in Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday.
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Max Scherzer raced out of the dugout toward the pitcher’s mound with many of his teammates. Ryan Zimmerman raised his hands in the air and said, “Oh my god!” Adam Eaton, who grew up dreaming of this moment in his backyard in Northridge, sprinted from his position in right field and put his glove on his head — or tried to — before jumping into the arms of the team’s 21-year-old star, left fielder Juan Soto.
Hours later, the former Miami RedHawks outfielder Eaton shared a photo of himself laying on a blanket of confetti, cradling the Commissioner's Trophy after a 6-2 victory.
“What dreams are made of,” Eaton wrote.
The Nationals flew home Thursday afternoon to prepare for a parade Saturday. It’s the franchise’s first World Series championship but the city’s second. The Washington Senators won it all in 1924.
"We can't wait to bring this all home," Eaton told the Washington Post. "That's going to be the sweetest part. Bringing the damn trophy home to a city that waited a long time for it."
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Eaton has waited a long time for this moment as well. He had never played in the postseason before this fall. He has always been motivated by failure and gave a speech on the subject two years ago in Springfield, telling the crowd at the Springfield/Clark County Baseball Hall of Fame ceremony about the day he walked seven batters in the first two innings in the state championship game. It was the final game of his Kenton Ridge High School career, and he blamed himself for an 8-6 loss to Canfield.
“We didn’t win state,” Eaton said. “Coach (Tom) Randall didn’t win state. The guys deserved to win state. It was on my arm, and we didn’t win.”
The Nationals depended more on Eaton’s bat and speed than his arm, and he delivered time and time again in the World Series.
In the final game of his eighth season in the big leagues, Eaton went 1-for-4. He walked with one out in the eighth, stole second and scored on a single by Soto as the Nationals extended their lead to 4-2. In the ninth, Eaton singled with the bases loaded to score the final two runs.
Eaton finished the series with a .320 average and a .433 on-base percentage — both second on the team behind Soto — and hit two home runs. He scored five runs and drove in six.
“Every guy on our roster contributed to what we accomplished,” manager Dave Martinez told reporters. “Adam is a big part of our team. He’s come through like many other players with big hits, and he knows how to play the game and do what it takes to win with leadership and commitment. He can lay down a bunt, put the ball in play on a hit and run, get on base, and hit the ball out of the park. Anything you ask him, he’s willing to do.”
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Eaton celebrated the championship with his family. Video posted to Twitter showed his 3-year-old son Brayden running the bases after Game 7 as Eaton, his wife
Katie and his parents, Glenn and Robin Eaton, of Springfield, watched.
Robin shared video of the final out of the game on Facebook and wrote, “We’re on our way home from a whirlwind of traveling, excitement, emotional ups and downs, crazy schedules, airports and Ubers, but we wouldn’t exchange the experience and outcome because it was PRICELESS! My 30-year-old son’s little boys dream has come true!! His life has changed in a BIG way, his career elevated, what a great blessing, GOD IS SO GOOD!!”
Cody Kaglic, like Eaton a senior on Kenton Ridge’s 2007 state runner-up team, was one of the many people to congratulate Eaton on Facebook.
“Seven years ago, we were eating crab legs after one of your minor league games,” Kaglic wrote, “and tonight, and forever, you’re a World Series champion.”