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O'Keefe hits 3 homers, delivers walk-off single

Veteran catcher lifts Triple-A Tacoma to third walk-off in four days
July 3, 2022

Stepping up to the plate in the bottom of the 10th inning on Saturday, Brian O’Keefe had a chance at rarefied air. Armed with three home runs and bidding for a historic fourth, he instead settled for a solid consolation prize -- a walk-off single to lift the Triple-A Tacoma

Stepping up to the plate in the bottom of the 10th inning on Saturday, Brian O’Keefe had a chance at rarefied air.

Armed with three home runs and bidding for a historic fourth, he instead settled for a solid consolation prize -- a walk-off single to lift the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers over the Salt Lake Bees, 5-4.

The final tallies on the big night for the 28-year-old catcher: four hits, five RBIs and 13 total bases in addition to the long ball trifecta. Those five runs driven in provided the entirety of the Rainiers' offense.

After homering in his final at-bat on Thursday, O’Keefe picked up right where he left off -- and then some. With one on and two out in the first, he unloaded to left field off Cesar Valdez with an exit velocity of 108.4 mph, his hardest-hit ball in 39 games this season.

O’Keefe’s night was fairly ho-hum until the later innings. He turned around on another Valdez offering in the sixth, hammering it nearly as hard at 106.6 mph but far outdoing his first blast by drilling the second one 436 feet.

Already having achieved a two-homer game for sixth time in his eight-year pro career, O’Keefe did himself one better in the eighth inning, tying the game at four with his third dinger of the night. It was the 19th three-homer game in the Minors this season and first by a Tacoma batter since Justin Ruggiano in 2015.

Few three-homer games allow the batter a chance at a fourth, but with the game remaining tied after nine innings, O’Keefe’s spot in the order came up again in the 10th with the automatic runner, Jarred Kelenic, on third after a wild pitch from Salt Lake’s Kyle Barraclough. After fouling off a first-pitch fastball, O’Keefe was on time with Barraclough’s second offering, lining the game-winner into center field.

O’Keefe’s 13 total bases far surpassed his previous career high of eight and placed him in a group of just nine players to reach that mark in the Minors this season. It extended his hitting streak to a modest four games, but more importantly raised his season line to .304/.380/.608 through 39 games. His .988 OPS would rank third in the Pacific Coast League if he had enough at-bats to qualify.

The Rainiers’ win was their third via the walk-off in their current series with the Bees. After Erick Mejia did the honors twice, O’Keefe took the spotlight and provided the fireworks just two days out from Independence Day.