Jermaine Curtis' first homer in six weeks pulled the Batavia Muckdogs within a victory of the first championship in their 51-year history.
Curtis slammed a go-ahead two-run shot in the top of the ninth inning Friday night as the Muckdogs stunned the Jamestown Jammers, 4-3, in Game 1 of the New York-Penn League Championship Series at Russell Diethrick Park.
"It feels great because this is a very tough team to play against and it's a very tough place to play," Batavia manager Mark Dejohn said.
"We knew we had our work cut out for us and we were going to have to be perfect to get the job done against these guys."
Batavia, which edged Jamestown by percentage points for the Pinckney Division title, appeared to be cruising toward a victory in the opener after Scott Gorgen shut down the league's top offense for six-plus brilliant innings.
But Ben Lasater capped a three-hit night with a three-run blast off Ramon Delgado (1-0) in the bottom of the eighth to erase a two-run deficit and put the Jammers within three outs of their eighth consecutive win.
Undaunted, the Muckdogs struck right back.
Jose Garcia sparked the comeback with a leadoff single and took second on Colt Sedbrook's sacrifice. Charles Cutler followed with a bid for a single through the shortstop hole, but the ball hit Garcia, leaving Batavia with a runner at first and two out.
Curtis, who hadn't gone deep since July 28 against Williamsport, came through with what may go down as the biggest homer in franchise history as his shot off Jared Yecker (0-1) cleared the left-field wall for a 4-3 lead.
"I was just looking for a pitch to drive and was looking for a fastball," Curtis said. "I was speechless [as I rounded the bases]. I can't say enough about this team. They just have so much heart and I'm just proud to be a part of it."
The Jammers, who hadn't lost since a 2-1 setback to Williamsport on Sept. 2, did not go easily in the bottom of the frame.
Jeremy Synan led off with a single and took second on Joel Staples' sacrifice before Dejohn pulled Delgado. Southpaw George Brown struck out Brandon Turner, and Jason Buursma came on to get Justin Bass on a game-ending comebacker to secure his second postseason save.
Edwin Gomez went 3-for-3 with a homer and two RBIs for Batavia, which can wrap up its first-ever title at home on Saturday night.
"I still feel like it's far away," Curtis admitted. "Jamestown is a great team and we can't look for the finish line. We have to play it one pitch at a time."
"We have to get one of these next two and hopefully we can get it done tomorrow," added Dejohn. "We know it's not over. They're very capable of winning two in our place."
Though he did not receive a decision, Gorgen continued his stellar late-season pitching for the Muckdogs as his longest outing of the year stretched his scoreless streak to 16 innings.
"[Gorgen's] a guy that knows how to pitch," Dejohn said. He competes very well and has only gotten better as the season has gone out. He was the key for us tonight."
The 21-year-old right-hander, who yielded six hits and two walks with four strikeouts, has allowed just one earned run over 28 1/3 frames in his last six outings.
"If it was up to me, I would say all the credit goes to [Gorgen]," Curtis said. "Jamestown rakes. They hit the ball so hard everywhere. For him to shut them down like that, he has to get all the credit."
Johnny Dorn kept the Jammers within striking distance by allowing two runs on five hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings.
Lasater fell a double shy of the cycle and Synan, Paul Gran and Kevin Mattison added two hits apiece for Jamestown.
Though the Muckdogs have yet to capture a title since starting out as a Cleveland affiliate in 1957, the Batavia Pirates won the NY-Penn crown in 1963.