The New Orleans Zephyrs fought back from a pair of late deficits, including a three-run hole in the 10th inning, then won on a walk-off home run by Chris Valaika in the 11th inning to beat the Memphis Redbirds, 8-7 on Wednesday night.
Valaika hit his third home run of the season with one out in the 11th off Kevin Thomas, an opposite-field shot that barely cleared the right field wall and gave the Z's their fifth walk-off victory of the year and third walk-off home run.
Zephyrs starter Elih Villanueva pitched six shutout innings, and helped at the plate as New Orleans built a 3-0 lead. Rob Brantly led off the second inning with a double and scored one out later on Villanueva's sacrifice fly.
The Z's added two more runs in the fourth when Bryan Petersen's grounder to first scooted past Redbirds first baseman Brock Peterson for an error, allowing a pair of runners to score.
Villanueva turned the lead over to Jonathan Albaladejo in the seventh, but Chris Swauger launched a three-run homer to right to tie the game.
Three Redbirds singles in the eighth inning, capped by a run-scoring knock up the middle by Greg Garcia, gave Memphis its first lead of the night at 4-3, but the Zephyrs rallied in the bottom of the frame.
Kyle Jensen led off with a single, and with two outs, Chris Coghlan laced a double into the right field corner to score pinch-runner Kevin Mattison to even the score at 4-4.
With two outs in the top of the 10th, Peterson made up for his earlier defensive miscue by hitting his 25th home run of the year, a solo blast off Zach Phillips. Jamie Romak then reached on a fielding error, and the Redbirds tacked on two insurance runs on back-to-back RBI doubles by Jermaine Curtis and Chad Huffman, giving Memphis a three-run cushion.
Again, the Zephyrs came back, as Valaika led off the bottom of the 10th with a single before Kyle Skipworth hit a two-run homer over the left field fence, his 10th of the season, to draw the Z's within a run.
After Deryk Hooker walked Nick Green and retired Gil Velazquez on a ground out for the second out of the inning, Petersen ripped a game-tying single up the middle. The Z's went on to load the bases, and out of position players, sent PCL saves leader Chris Hatcher, a converted catcher, to the plate with a chance to win the game, but Hatcher flew out to force another extra frame.
Hatcher (4-3) stayed in the game to pitch and worked around a leadoff single in the 11th, and was credited with the victory. Thomas (0-1) took the loss for the Redbirds, who blew a chance to draw even with Omaha for first place in the American Northern Division with five games remaining in the season.
The Zephyrs improved to 12-5 in extra-inning games, the second-best record in the Pacific Coast League, and returned above the .500 mark at 70-69.
The teams conclude the four-game set on Thursday at 7 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.