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Hicks gives Twins storybook ending

Elizabethton wins Appy League crown on walk-off grand slam
September 3, 2012

Bases loaded. Two outs. Full count. It's all tied up in the deciding game of a championship series, and the batter -- sitting dead-red on a fastball -- gets one and sends it into the stands for a walk-off grand slam.

It's the kind of cliché ending most movies wouldn't even get away with, and yet there was D.J. Hicks on Monday night, making it a reality.

A night after leading off the bottom of the 11th with a single and later scoring the winning run to keep Rookie-level Elizabethton alive in the Appalachian League Finals, the first baseman hit a walk-off grand slam in the 12th to beat Burlington, 10-6, and capture the Twins' fifth crown in the past 10 years.

"That felt great, that's probably one of the best feelings so far in my quick professional career," said Hicks. "It was a full count, he threw a fastball -- probably middle-away. Earlier in the game, I'd been rolling over on everything. This time I stayed back and took it [opposite way]. ... I had no doubt it was going out.

"[The reaction] was crazy, I think I barely even got to first base. We'd been building up the whole game to celebrate like that."

It didn't appear the Twins would get the chance to have that kind of ending at first. The Royals pushed across four runs in the fourth and sent in John Walter to close out the series in the bottom of the ninth with a 6-1 lead.

Jhonatan Arias and Romy Jimenez walked to lead off the inning. Two outs later, Max Kepler loaded the bases. Hicks was hit by a pitch to bring Arias in and a wild pitch scored Jimenez. Now down, 6-3, Adam Walker delivered a three-run homer to bring Elizabethton back from the brink of elimination.

"I just knew I had a chance. I put a barrel on it and hit the ball hard and it went out," said Walker. "It was a great feeling to see all my teammates and the excitement on their faces. We believed we had a chance to tie it up and the energy and excitement from that gave us momentum. I gave my team a chance to win, and I'm just glad at the end of the day we came out on top."

The three-game Championship Series between the two teams proved worthy of the title. The Royals took the first game, 3-2, in 12 innings and the Twins responded Sunday with the 4-3 win in 11 frames to tie the series before Monday's dramatic finale.

"The intensity of the whole series was great. We had three extra-inning games. We did well throughout the year, and we all believed that we could get it done. And when it came down to it, we pulled it out," Walker said.

"Every game felt like it went until two in the morning, with the rain to overcome and then pulling it out late at home," added Hicks. "It's pretty special."

Hicks finished with five RBIs. Kepler went 2-for-4 with two runs, an RBI and three walks.

Jose Berrios started for the Twins, allowing four unearned runs on three hits and four walks while fanning seven over four innings. Reliever Brett Lee (1-1), who recorded the final two outs of the 12th, wound up with the win.


Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to