Ports' Kirkland plays hero in 17th inning

A's shortstop pitches two innings, hammers walk-off home run

Shortstop Wade Kirkland has three homers and a 3.00 ERA this season. (Stockton Ports)

By Ashley Marshall / Special to MLB.com | May 21, 2013 6:10 PM ET

After getting mobbed at home plate following his 17th-inning walk-off homer, Wade Kirkland made his way down the dugout steps at Banner Island Ballpark.

With his jersey untucked and his helmet, gloves and bat still in his hand, Kirkland was greeted with a hug by Monday night's hero, Tony Thompson, whose three words summed the afternoon up perfectly.

"Yes. It's over."

After five hours and 44 minutes of baseball in front of 4,551 fans under central Californian sun, it was Kirkland who proved to be the difference-maker. First, he pitched two innings of relief, then he smacked his third longball of the year in the Class A Advanced Stockton Ports' 11-9 win over the Lake Elsinore Storm.

"It was a marathon. It was back and forth," Florida native Kirkland said. "They scored two, then we came back for two. They scored one, we scored one.

"I've been in one other game that was one inning longer, but nothing this crazy. Just the amount of runs in extras was crazy."

Kirkland came into the game in the top of the 16th in relief of first baseman Tony Thompson, who struck out three batters over two scoreless frames less than 24 hours after homering twice in the same inning.

Then Kirkland, 24, gave up a run on a pair of singles sandwiched around a sacrifice bunt, but Philip Pohl tied the game again with his first longball of the season in the bottom of the frame.

"They asked me if I could [pitch] and I said no problem," Kirkland said. "Just knowing a game like this, the bullpen was spent. I stretched a little bit, threw a bit on the side, had my seven warmup pitches and I was ready to go. It was fun and exciting.

"I pitched a lot in high school and threw an inning earlier this season against Lancaster. It wasn't in extras, but they got to our bullpen in the second inning and they scored a lot of runs that day."

The instructions for Kirkland -- who tossed a scoreless inning of relief in a 19-13 slugfest against the JetHawks on May 10 -- were simple. Throw it over the plate and let them get themselves out.

"I think I was around 79-81 mph," he said, "I was just trying to let them hit it. It was all fastballs, maybe two knuckleballs, but they weren't very effective. I just wanted to show them something different. I think my teammates want to see me throw more knuckleballs."

Kirkland worked around a one-out walk in the 17th and he ended the game with a two-run homer to left field with one out in the bottom of the inning.

"I was on deck getting ready as usual and [Max] Muncy got on base, so my mind-set was to get a pitch to hit and put a good swing on it," said Kirkland, selected by the A's in the 11th round of the 2010 Draft out of Florida Southern University.

"I figured [John Hussey] would give me a first-pitch fastball in extras because he didn't want to waste pitches. I was flying high at that point, it was fun. I got to home plate and got mobbed, it was a good feeling."

Just as Thompson homered twice with big leaguer Kevin Kouzmanoff's bat Monday, it was also some Major League lumber which brought an end to Tuesday's proceedings, a game that saw a combined 38 hits, 29 strikeouts, 16 pitchers and five lead changes.

"I was actually using a bat I got from Daric Barton in Spring Training," the 5-foot-10 right-hander said. "I've been switching between that and a Louisville Slugger. Everybody was thrilled that it's over. It was a long day for sure."

On Tuesday, Stockton plated three runs in the first, but Lake Elsinore reponded with a six-spot in the third. The Ports clawed one run back in the fourth and two more in the eighth to send the game to extras.

The Storm scored twice in the 13th and once in the 16th, both times seeing the lead evaporate in the bottom of the frame before Kirkland's walk-off hit.

Tuesday's victory gave the Ports -- who recorded a season-best 21 hits -- their California League-leading fourth extra-inning victory of the year.

Stockton's Antonio Lamas was 5-for-7 with three doubles, three RBIs and a run scored, becoming the first player in the league this season to record multiple five-hit games. He was also 5-for-7 against High Desert on April 27.

Ports leadoff hitter Myrio Richard was 4-for-8 with two doubles and three runs scored, shortstop Addison Russell hit his sixth homer and left fielder Rashun Dixon reached base safely five times. Dusty Robinson was 0-for-8 with seven strikeouts.

Lake Elsinore's Jace Peterson was 4-for-8 with a double, a walk and a run, while Travis Whitmore was 3-for-7 with a double, a walk, two runs scored and an RBI.

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

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