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Yelich's walk-off sparks 'Hoppers' run
10/31/2011 10:00 AM ET
Most ballplayers spend their childhood practicing the dream scenario in their backyard. This postseason, Christian Yelich got a chance to live that dream.

Yelich's two-run homer in the 15th inning ended Game 1 of the South Atlantic League semifinals, giving Greensboro a 5-4 win over Hickory, earning the squad a MiLBY for Best Class A Game.

Kirk hurls Fourth of July no-no

Peoria's Austin Kirk delivered some fireworks of his own on the Fourth of July, no-hitting the Clinton LumberKings in a 2--0 victory. The Cubs prospect struck out a career-high 10 batters while walking two. He faced one above the minimum and needed 101 pitches to complete his first shutout as a professional. The 21-year-old southpaw became the first Chiefs pitcher to throw a no-hitter since Nick Struck achieved the feat in a rain-shortened game on April 30, 2010.
"I was trying to get a good pitch and hit something hard in one of the gaps," the Marlins' No. 3 prospect said. "I wasn't thinking home run at all. I just started battling with two strikes. I wanted to put something in play, and he hung a changeup."

"I hit it off the end of the bat so I wasn't sure. It was a little crazy. When the outfielder went for the jump I thought he had a chance, and when he came down without it, our team and stadium started going crazy. It was an awesome experience."

The blast was the only longball of the postseason for the Marlins' 2010 first-rounder, but its importance was not lost on him.

The homer capped what had been a wild Game 1, as Hickory scored three separate times in extra innings to take a lead only to see the Grasshoppers rally. After Marcell Ozuna, who was a triple shy of the cycle in the game, was hit by a pitch to open the 15th, Yelich ended the game.

"That game was probably the best baseball game I've ever been part of," Yelich, who hit .242 in seven playoff games, said. "We were down four or five times and came back, and I just happened to win it with the homer. Hitting a walk-off homer in the 15th inning in your first pro playoff game is pretty special."

The rally proved to be the motif for the club's postseason run, as the Grasshoppers staved off elimination in the Game 4 of the Championship Series with a ninth-inning comeback against Savannah. Yelich believes that the way the first game of playoffs ended provided a spark to the Grasshoppers, who defeated the Sand Gnats in five games to win the South Atlantic League title.

"I think we had a lot of momentum coming into the playoffs, but I think that game showed us that we are doing something pretty special," he said. "It let us carry that momentum through the series with Hickory and onto the series with Savannah."

From there, the rest, as they say, is history.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.