Hicks, E-Twins stave off elimination

Elizabethton first baseman forces decisive Appy Finals game

By Ashley Marshall / Special to MLB.com | September 2, 2012 10:55 PM ET

When you're playing postseason baseball, there's no bad way to win a game. For D.J. Hicks and the Elizabethton Twins, they needed a victory any way they could get it.

First baseman Hicks' leadoff single in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game 2 of the best-of-3 Appalachian League Finals on Sunday helped give the Rookie-level Twins a 4-3 walk-off win over the Burlington Royals.

The Royals led in the middle of the fourth, 3-0, but the Twins responded with one run in the bottom of the inning and two more in the sixth.

A trio of Elizabethton relievers -- Tyler Duffey, Kaleb Merck and J.T. Chargois (1-0) -- then teamed up on seven hitless innings before Central Florida alum Hicks delivered the decisive blow.

Leading off the bottom of the 11th, Hicks, selected by the Twins in the 17th round of the 2012 Draft, pulled Ben Tomchick's offering into right field. The throw came back into the infield from Fred Ford, but second baseman Kenny Diekroeger threw the ball into the Twins' dugout behind first base while trying to catch Hicks, who had taken a wide turn toward second, off guard.

"I rounded first and the second baseman just looked at me," Hicks told the Burlington Times News. "He tried to back-pick me. It hit me in the elbow. ... That's the last thing I thought that late in the game somebody tries to back-pick me."

The two-base error advanced Hicks to third, forcing the Royals to intentionally walk Adam Walker and Byron Buxton to set up a force play at the plate.

Pinch-runner Kelvin Mention replaced Hicks, and he scampered home with the winning run when Tomchick's first pitch to Travis Harrison went to the backstop.

It marked the second consecutive extra-innings affair in this year's championship series. On Saturday, Bubba Starling's sacrifice fly gave the Royals a 12-inning walk-off win in Game 1.

"They snake-bit us [Saturday] night and we were able to get lucky and ambush them [in Game 2]," Elizabethton manager Ray Smith told the newspaper. "The key was our bullpen. Even though [the Royals] got us early, we were able to hold them."

The teams will meet Monday night for a winner-takes-all Game 3. The Royals will look to bounce back and secure their first championship since 1993 -- and their first since becoming affiliated with the Royals back in 2007 -- while the Twins will hope to capture their fifth crown in 10 years.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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