The maxim "It ain't over 'til it's over" is more relevant in baseball than any other sport. That is especially true throughout the Minor Leagues, where wackiness is commonplace and the only thing you can predict is unpredictability.
Consider Saturday's Midwest League game between Clinton and Wisconsin. After Clinton grabbed an early advantage, the Timber Rattlers battled back and opened an eight-run cushion after five innings. The LumberKings rallied but still trailed by a pair of runs heading to the ninth.
Wisconsin reliever Harvey Martin started the final inning with a couple strikeouts. But Lonnie Kauppila, Ian Miller and Zach Shank singled to cut Clinton's deficit to 13-12. That brought up Jack Reinheimer, who smacked an opposite-field triple to put the LumberKings back on top.
Then Austin Wilson strode to the plate. Not wanting his club to experience the same fate that befell Wisconsin, he launched a two-run homer that stretched Clinton's lead to 16-13. That's where it stayed as LumberJacks reliever Rafael Pineda pitched around a single in the bottom of the ninth.
"Honestly," said Wilson, the Mariners' No. 13 prospect, "I've been in some crazy comebacks, but not one where we came back with two outs like that. We got the momentum in our favor and then it was a big team win. It was definitely a first-time experience for me. Hopefully, it can happen again."
The homer was the third for Wilson, who's a month into his first full season after being selected by Seattle in the second round of the 2013 Draft.
"They had a big gap down the left-field line and my goal was to get the bat head out and get something elevated with [Reinheimer] at third," he said. "I'd already hit a double down the line and my swing felt good. At first, I got a 3-1 fastball in and I fouled it off. Facing their closer, I thought he might come back in again and I didn't miss, hit it pretty good. It was a home run and it worked out well. It was a big team win. We had two outs and it was crazy."
In a game in which Clinton totaled a season-high 21 hits and Wisconsin collected 13, Wilson went 2-for-5. But he drove in a career-high six runs, two of which came in the LumberKings' six-run seventh. After Shank drew a leadoff walk and Reinheimer singled, Wilson lined a double to left and took third on an error before scoring on Tyler O'Neill's base hit.
The 22-year-old outfielder also picked up RBIs with a groundout in the first and a sacrifice fly in the fifth. Through 27 games, Wilson is batting .309/.382/.495 with a league-leading 24 RBIs.
"I think I'm just getting my timing down more consistently," said Wilson, a Los Angeles native who had to adjust to the cooler conditions in Clinton, Iowa. "The past couple games, our team has been very productive and successful. I think that approach is carrying over. I'm being more aggressive and more selective and my swing is going well. It's just my approach and timing."
Shank and Reinheimer each finished with four hits, with Shank scoring four runs and driving in two. Reinheimer chipped in three RBIs, two runs scored and the critical triple. The wacky win pushed Clinton's record to 4-0 in May.
"As a team, we've been getting used to the weather," Wilson said. "Now we're getting more aggressive, not more aggressive, just more warrior-like. We're grinding out at-bats, hustling harder, playing the game the right way."
Chris McFarland went 3-for-5 with four RBIs and two runs scored for the Timber Rattlers, while Michael Ratterree drove in three runs and leadoff man Omar Garcia was 2-for-3 with two walks, three runs scored and an RBI.