Audio: Robinson ends the marathon
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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- Wade Robinson clinched the Texas League championship for the Corpus Christi Hooks with a walk-off single in the 14th inning, ending a wild 8-7 win over the Wichita Wranglers on Friday.
Jorge Cortes walked with one out in the 14th and moved to second on Josh Anderson's single up the middle. Robinson lined an 0-1 pitch off Seung Song (0-1) to plate Cortes and secure the title, four hours and 59 minutes after the game's first pitch.
"All we needed was one run, and I was just glad to be part of this team, get in there and help whenever I could," Robinson said. "I finally got my chance and I made the most of it."
Robinson was an unlikely hero for the Hooks. The 25-year-old shortstop didn't enter the game until the ninth, but went 3-for-3 with three singles.
Reliever Josh Miller (1-0) pitched three perfect innings for the win. He benefited from some strong defense, including a twisting, diving catch by Anderson on the center-field warning track that robbed Chris Lubanski of extra bases in the 12th.
"(The Wranglers) have a pretty good lineup, but I just had to make good pitches," Miller said. "When I made mistakes, they were fouling them off and it wasn't hurting me. You can't be nervous out there. You have to focus and make your pitches. And that play Josh Anderson made, that was just outstanding."
Miller almost didn't get a chance to get in the game as Lubanski's RBI single gave the Wranglers a 7-6 lead in the 10th. Down to their final three outs, the Hooks got a leadoff double from Johnny Ash. Cortes followed with a sacrifice, but the Wranglers tried to catch Ash at third. The throw was late and both runners were safe.
Anderson delivered a run-scoring chopper to shortstop that tied the game, 7-7, and kept 8,394 fans at Whataburger Field until well after midnight. The fielder's choice was the second game-tying RBI of the night for Anderson, who also drove in a run in the eighth when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
"My teammates have been great and these fans have been great. They deserve this," Anderson said. "We just told ourselves, 'This must be our game.' There were so many things that happened tonight that kept pointing the finger back at us. I'm just so thankful to be part of it."
The Wranglers had several opportunities to secure the win, but couldn't capitalize. In addition to losing the lead in the 10th, they left the bases loaded in the 11th. They stranded 10 base runners on the night, including four in extra innings, and watched three leads disappear over the course of the marathon.
Wichita also fell victim to the Hooks' great defense. With the game tied, 6-6, in the ninth, the Wranglers put two runners on with none out and Texas League Player of the Year Alex Gordon at the plate. But Gordon lined out to first baseman Josh Bonifay. Both runners were moving, so Bonifay stepped on first and tossed to second to complete a triple play.
"Our guys played hard," Wranglers manager Frank White said. "We made some outstanding plays defensively to keep the other guys off the board, and (the Hooks) did the same thing against us. It's one of those games where both teams had opportunities and we didn't capitalize on ours.
"We played hard, and we didn't make it easy for (the Hooks). It just didn't go our way in the end. Still, it's a great game for these guys to build on. They felt this loss pretty hard, and that's a good thing."
The Hooks celebrated with champagne and official 2006 Texas League champions merchandise after the win, while most of crowd stuck around to celebrate with them.
"I wasn't nervous, really. I was just anxious, just trying to get this thing done," said Hooks manager Dave Clark, whose team stranded 17 runners. "We missed some opportunities, but Wade Robinson was our hero tonight. He stepped up and got the job done.
"(The game) just seesawed back and forth. You could tell those guys wanted it just as bad as we did. It just came down to us getting it done in the end, and what a great feeling this is."
Dan Pieringer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.