Contreras' go-ahead shot keeps Cubs alive

Daytona catcher collects three hits, plates four to extend FSL Finals

Willson Contreras has a .529/.579/.824 slash line in five playoff games. (Aldrin Capulong/Daytona Cubs)

By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com | September 7, 2014 1:26 AM

As Willson Contreras rounded the bases late Saturday night, he smacked his manager's hand very hard. And while Daytona's Dave Keller joked that his catcher broke his hand, he was happy with what had just unfolded.

"He had every right to be excited. Anytime you hit a go-ahead homer, you know you're going to be excited because your team is down and we are on the verge of our season being over," Keller said. "Everyone was obviously very excited."

Contreras smacked a three-run blast in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Cubs forced a fourth game in the Florida State League Championship Series with an 8-7 victory over Fort Myers.

"We had everything tonight, we had all kinds of wild stuff tonight," Keller said. "I'd said if anyone has ever been to Six Flags and likes roller coasters, that's what it's like for these kids. It's been a roller coaster since the start of the season."

After a rain delay that lasted a little over two hours, the Cubs and Miracle traded the lead four times in a game that featured two ties. With Daytona trailing, 6-5, Ben Carhart drew a one-out walk in the eighth and Cubs No. 7 prospect Billy McKinney singled to put the tying run at second for Contreras. The 22-year-old catcher sent an offering from reliever D.J. Johnson (0-1) over the left-field fence.

"It went out and hit off the scoreboard, and it obviously was a huge lift for us and got us the lead," Keller said. "Willson comes up and has a great at-bat, but it was highlighted by Carhart's walk and McKinney's single."

Contreras has had a strong postseason, hitting .529 with five RBIs and six runs scored while striking out only twice in five games.

"He plays with a lot of energy, he plays with a lot of emotions and he plays to compete. And when you have a player like that, they're easy to coach," Keller said of the Venezuela native. "We just try to keep it under a control a little and just let him play."

Fort Myers' Dalton Hicks homered, but Zack Godley stranded a runner at first as Daytona held on to force Game 4 on Sunday at Jackie Robinson Ballpark.

"Everybody's tired, everyone wants to go home and get some rest and everyone wants to see if you can come back and get another," Keller said. "When you win a game like that, no matter if it's the start of the series or the middle or the end, that atmosphere in the clubhouse is going to be really good."

Stuart Turner went 4-for-4 with three RBIs and Hicks finished with three hits, two RBIs and a pair of runs scored for the Miracle.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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