'Birds win 16 inning marathon in walk-off fashion

Cazana's home run gives Redbirds series win

August 16, 2010 10:01 PM

Memphis, TN - Amaury Cazana hit a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 16th to defeat the Sky Sox 6-5.

It was a long night at AutoZone Park as both teams were held scoreless from the eighth inning until Cazana's walk-off laser to dead-center field.

"We were talking before the ninth inning saying, 'whatever we going to do, let's do it right now,'" said Cazana as his teammates congratulated him with a shaving cream pie in the face in the clubhouse.

Even though it took one man's swing of the bat seven innings after that dugout talk in the ninth, it was far from a one-man show.

"It was a tremendous team win," said manager Chris Maloney. "We had to use pitchers...Dickson in right field. The bullpen you can't say enough about them. They came in and just kept throwing goose eggs up every inning. Cazana put the sonic boom on it...when he hit it I knew it was gone."

That Redbirds bullpen at one point in the game retired 27 consecutive batters, which is the length of a conventional nine inning baseball game. In total, six relievers were used with Rich Rundles (5-1) picking up the win after throwing a scoreless 16th.

It's not as if the Redbirds didn't have their chances to end the game earlier. They were 1-for11 with men in scoring position and left a total of 15 base runners on. They had the bases loaded in the 12th and two men on in the 14th and 15th innings, but could not capitalize. Many times in extra innings, players try to end the game with a home run instead of going through their normal offensive progression.

"I never try to hit a home run," said Cazana. "I just try and make good contact. (Hitting Coach Mark Budaska) told me to never try and hit a home run, just put the ball in play and make good contact...that's it."

The game was much in doubt for the 'Birds as they needed a comeback just to force the game into extras.

With the Redbirds trailing by two runs in the bottom of the eighth, Bryan Anderson tied the game with a two-run shot off Juan Rincon.

Redbirds starter Nate Robertson struggled in this one after pitching a scoreless first as he gave up at least one run in the following four innings of work. In five innings he allowed five runs on nine hits.

After the Redbirds offense staked him a 2-1 lead in the second inning thanks to a Kevin Howard two-run single, Cole Garner tied the game up with a solo home run, his 10th of the year. Chris Nelson followed that up in the next inning with a solo shot of his own to give the Sky Sox a 3-2 lead.

However, the lead was short-lived. Kevin Howard belted his sixth home run of the year to tie the game at three apiece. It was Howard's first home run since July 11 when he hit one at home against the Nashville Sounds.

But once again, Robertson had difficulty keeping the Sky Sox offense in check. Cole Garner drew a walk and Jay Payton followed it with a single before Matt Miler broke the tie with an RBI single. Chris Nelson kept the rally going with another RBI single to cap the two-run inning and give the Sky Sox a 5-3 lead.

But all of that seemed like an afterthought because of the nearly five hour game, and another walk-off victory.

"A win's a win and that was a great one," he said. Nobody quit. The effort was there all the way through to the end. Everyone was trying their tails off."

Notes: Redbirds outfielder Joe Mather was 0-for-7 with six strikeouts, which is a new Redbirds record...Redbirds pitching struck out 18 batters...Pacific Coast League All-Star pitcher Brandon Dickson entered the game in the ninth as a pinch runner and played the remainder of the game in right field and had three at-bats without reaching base.

Tuesday's Probables:
COL: RHP Eric Junge (3-1, 4.58)
MEM: LHP Evan MacLane (6-7, 4.29)

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

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