Minnesota (WCCO) - When Mounds View High School pitcher Ty Koehn struck out a batter last Wednesday to clinch the state sectional final, he didn't celebrate with his team right away. Instead, he walked straight to the opposing team's batter and embraced him.
“The previous batter with one out flew out to left,” Koehn told WCCO Radio. “And I looked at the next batter and see it’s him, and my heart kind of sinks.”
That batter was Koehn’s childhood friend Jack Kocon of Totino-Grace High School. Koehn and Kocon are childhood friends who met in the Shoreview Area Youth Baseball League when they were both 13 years-old. Koehn says they’ve kept in touch over the years even though they went to separate high schools.
Koehn, a graduating senior in his final season as a star pitcher, was sad to see what stood between him and advancing to the state quarterfinals was his friend Jack. Mounds View had a 4 to 0 lead that night over Totino-Grace.
“I tried my best and ignored the fact that it was him, until that final strikeout. At that point, it was just instinct to go up to him, and I wasn’t even thinking. I ran right past my catcher and went to embrace him,” said Koehn.
There, while spectators filmed from the stands, he remembers telling his friend that, “The outcome of a game isn’t nearly as important as our friendship."
"I just told him I loved him and he’s my brother," he added.
Mounds View Head Coach Mark Downey wasn't surprised by Koehn's reaction.
“He’s a high character kid, he’s a football captain,” Downey said. “I’m not surprised. I think it’s a reflection of any of these kids. We have a great senior class, we have a great entire team of kids and I wouldn’t be surprised if anyone of them had done that.”
The team is now practicing for this weekend’s quarterfinals against Stillwater High School.
Listen to the radio version of this story HERE.