Every kid ... or anyone who loves baseball ... has had the same dream. You're at the plate with two outs in the last of the ninth, the bases loaded and the game on the line. The pitcher delivers and you send the ball out of the ballpark for a game-winning, grand slam home run.
Viosergy Rosa and the RockHounds lived that dream on Friday night. Rosa sent Ryan Deemes' 1-1 pitch out to right field, cutting through the West Texas wind and into the right field bullpen for a walk-off grand slam. Not only was Rosa's slam a game-winner, it came in the pivotal third game of the best-of five Texas League South Division Series, a game in which the 'Hounds had trailed since the fourth inning. The walk-off swing capped a five-run inning that saw the 'Hounds erase a 5-2 deficit entering the last of the ninth.
The RockHounds opened the scoring in the second with a Yairo Munoz single, followed by a sac bunt from Rosa (his first of the season) and a two-out RBI single from Richie Martin.
Corpus Christi broke through with a five-run fourth inning against starter Ben Bracewell. Opposite field first-pitch singles from J.D. Davis and Nick Tanielu set the table for Bobby Boyd, who drilled a 1-2 pitch out to right field for a three-run home run. Antonio Nunez re-kindled the inning with a two-out walk, followed by RBI swings Drew Ferguson (double) and to Garrett Stubbs (single), to give Corpus Christi a 5-1 lead.
Kyle Friedrichs, in just his second appearance at the Double-A level (after joining the RockHounds in the final week of the regular season), relieved Bracewell with two out in the fourth. The right-hander was outstanding, going the rest of the way (5.1 innings) without allowing a run. He surrendered just three hits, did not walk a batter and struck out three to earn the win.
Martin opened the ninth reaching on an error by (shortstop) Nunez and Brett Vertigan followed with a single to right. Martin then scored from third on Max Schrock's ground out. Beau Taylor was hit by a pitch, but Hooks reliever Jacob Dorris came right back to strike out Tyler Marincov for the second out. Munoz then showed great patience in drawing a walk to load the bases, setting the stage for Rosa's moment.
The crowd (paid attendance 3,299) was outstanding, and deserves a lot of credit for creating a tremendous atmosphere. They had to wait through much of the game to, as the late Jack Buck once put it "go crazy, folks, go crazy," but their patience was rewarded.
With the victory, the RockHounds take a two-games-to-one lead in the series and will bid to earn their third consecutive trip to the Texas League Championship Series with a win Saturday night. A Hooks win on Saturday forces a fifth and deciding game Sunday afternoon.
Kibbles & Bits
STAT OF THE DAY: Offense continues to dominate the 2016 Texas League playoffs. Through the first six games of the postseason, the four clubs (RockHounds, Hooks, Springfield and Northwest Arkansas) have combined to score 68 runs on 148 hits, an average of 11.3 runs on 24.6 hits per game. Once Springfield (eight hits Friday) has failed to reach double-digit hits in a game.
- Northwest Arkansas and Springfield had a remarkable day in the North Division series. The clubs finished game two, which was suspended due to rain on Thursday night in Springfield with Northwest Arkansas leading, 8-7. The game was resumed Friday in Springdale with the Cardinals (playing as the home team on the Naturals' home field) rallying with five runs in the eighth and holding in for a 12-11 win. Northwest Arkansas then took a 2-1 lead in the series with an 8-3 win in game three (also at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale).