MARIANNA, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Ask any coach-—any sport, any level—and they'll probably tell you the most fulfilling part of their job is seeing players go on to succeed in life.
If that means succeed at the game, even better.
Chipola baseball coach Jeff Johnson has four former players in the MLB Postseason, tied for the most of any college.
Already proud when the series opened last week, he was glowing Sunday night.
Adam Duvall, class of 2008, got the game winning hit for the Braves in game 3, a two run double in the top of the ninth to beat the Cardinals and give Atlanta the series lead. Tyler Flowers, class of 2005, caught the final outs behind the plate.
In the Nationals-Dodgers nightcap, Russell Martin (class of 2002), drilled a two run double in the top of the sixth off fellow Chipola alum Patrikc Corbin ('09) which proved to be the game winner for L.A., sparking a seven run barrage all with two outs.
It was a surreal viewing experience, even for for a man who has seen just about everything in 23 years in Marianna and a lifetime on the diamond.
"It was one of the most proud, interesting days of my career," Johnson said. "Just a joy to be able to sit there and be able to watch guys. A proud moment for Chipola baseball and Chipola baseball alumni and fans. People need to watch it and understand the top players that are playing here in Marianna and our league as well. I just couldn't be prouder of having all four of those guys representing our college the way they do on and off the field."
As exciting as Sunday's games were, the pivotal moment of the late game was bittersweet. Seeing Martin excel at the expense of Corbin, who pitched strong but lost game 1 of the series already, wasn't easy.
"It was great for Russell, proud of him, but on the other end of it, you hurt when you see one of your players hurt as well like Pat was," Johnson admitted. "He's just got to grow from it, learn and be ready for the next time out. Hopefully he gets another opportunity this year, but he's had a great season as well."
Duvall has found himself at the center of other important moments this week. In game 2, he hit a two run homer off the bench. On the losing end in game 4, he caught Yadier Molina's walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the tenth.
The foursome competing in the NLDS are among 18 players who have made it to the big leagues during Johnson's tenure. Perhaps their success could provide inspiration for his current team.
"A lot of them are not any different than a bunch of guys we've got in our dugout now if they want to do things the right way and have the right work ethic and all that," Johnson added. "But you've got to get the breaks. You've got to be talented to a certain degree, and hopefully the the mental part of it and the will to be successful is there."
As it turns out, Johnson's guys never stop chasing rings.
"I'm just a proud old baseball coach. It's what you do it for."