Dominique Hawkins couldn’t believe what he saw: the last baseball of the 2011 College World Series floating in his direction.
South Carolina center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. grabbed the fly ball that clinched the national title Tuesday night. Then Bradley tossed it into the left-field bleachers.
Hawkins, a May graduate of Bellevue West High School just outside of Omaha, battled a horde of fans for the ball, then took off running in celebration. Considering Hawkins finished second in the Class A 100 meters, nobody caught him.
“I started doing a little victory dance,” he said.
Hawkins’ accomplishment wasn’t complete. Outside the stadium, he started telling strangers about his souvenir. Nobody believed it was the final out.
So Hawkins found Bradley in front of TD Ameritrade Park. Bradley was posing for pictures at the Road to Omaha statue when Hawkins showed him the ball.
“He stopped what he was doing and said, ‘Huh?’ ” Hawkins said.
Bradley directed Hawkins to the South Carolina bus, where all the Gamecocks signed the ball.
If you want to sell it, Bradley’s father told Hawkins, let me know.
Hawkins prefers to keep it.
“I’m gonna frame it.”
— Dirk Chatelain, Omaha World-Herald