ASHEVILLE- Sometimes people make the most of their opportunities. Sometimes you only have a few opportunities to make the most of. On Monday night Greg Jones had the biggest hit of his life, and he had only one chance to do it. The Asheville Tourists beat the Lexington Legends 9-8 thanks to a walk-off Grand Slam in the bottom of the ninth - by Greg Jones.
It is a scenario every baseball player dreams of. Most times players go through their entire careers without ever having the chance to do what Greg did. Those that do find themselves in that situation almost never do what Greg did. With the Tourists trailing 8-5 and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, Jones stepped to the plate - for his first at bat of the game.
Jones entered as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning when the injury riddled Tourists needed someone to play right field. Jones is a catcher by trade but this is a guy who will do whatever it takes to help the team. Greg was appearing in just his fourth game of the season despite breaking spring training with the Tourists. He's been here all year.
LeeMarcus Boyd led off the ninth with a single to left and Daniel Montano followed with a single to center. Terrin Vavra reached on an error to load the bases and up to the plate came Jones. Greg worked a one ball two strike count before lining a foul ball down the right field line that broke his bat. Jones walked to the dugout, picked out a new bat, and headed back to the batter's box.
The next pitch came in and what happened after Greg swung is still a blur to many who witnessed it. The ball left the bat and soared towards the darkness behind the illuminated 42-foot scoreboard in right-centerfield. As the ball continued to carry, Greg turned towards the dugout on his way to first base and put his arms out with a big smile. He knew he did it.
The baseball cleared the scoreboard by plenty and the stadium erupted after seeing the base umpire give the Home Run signal. If there was a walk-off Grand Slam signal the umpire would have given that. Jones was deservingly mobbed by his teammates at home plate when he jumped on the plate to officially account for the winning run.
What happened in innings one through eight were noteworthy, but tonight belongs to the guy who made everyone who ever plays the game of baseball realize there are moments that are bigger than the game; that opportunities can be taken advantage of in the biggest of ways. Tonight belongs to Greg Jones.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.