May 14, 2012
CL Game 37
Diamondbacks (Cocco's Pizza) 12
Dodgers (Allied Building) 11
Displaying exceptional resolve, the D'backs rallied for five runs in the fifth
and four in the sixth en route to seizing their first win of the season in
thrilling, walk-off fashion!
With the bases loaded and two outs in a tie game in the bottom of the sixth, Jake McDowell stepped to the plate. Because the Diamondbacks had come close to victory several times only to suffer one gut-wrenching defeat after another, many in the large D'backs cheering section could hardly bear to watch. On top of that, due in large part to a momentary lapse of reason by the Diamondbacks manager, the D'backs and their faithful had thought they won on the previous play only to learn that the game was tied. And, making the situation even more dramatic, the rain - which had threatened all day to change from a light spritz to a downpour - was coming down harder and harder by the moment.
On this night, though, nothing could deter the never-say-die Diamondbacks.
With everyone in attendance either standing or on the edge of their (very wet) seats, McDowell launched a fly ball into right field that seemed to stay in the air for much longer than it did. After the ball hit the ground, Dylan LeBuhn crossed the plate with the winning run, and a wild celebration ensued.
Game balls were awarded to: McDowell, who went 4 for 4 with three RBI and a run scored; Joey Cornacchia, who went 3 for 4 with the game-tying single in the sixth, an RBI double in the fifth and two runs scored, in addition to making several outstanding plays in the field; and Blayke Reid, who went 2 for 3 with a run scored and came up with a critical stop at first base that prevented a potentially big inning for the Dodgers.
Meanwhile, Milan Hortua smacked two doubles, one of which brought home a pair of Diamondbacks and invoked the five-run rule in the fifth, and scored a run; Nicholas Corritore went 3 for 3 with two RBI and a run scored; and Kelton Brunner went 3 for 4 with two runs scored to help lead a D'backs offense that erupted for 24 hits and put the ball in play 29 times, both season highs. LeBuhn (2 for 3, two runs scored, RBI), Lizzy Gibian (2 for 3, run scored), Josh Rodgers (game-tying run, RBI), Nico Villalobos (RBI) and Luke Mersch also joined the Diamondbacks' hit parade.
Defensively, along with Cornacchia and Reid, Rodgers, Brunner, Gibian, Mersch, Hortua and Corritore stood out for the home squad.
For the visitors, Daniel Morgans crushed a bases-clearing triple to spearhead a Dodgers offense that piled up 22 hits and put the ball in play 27 times.
Despite being given reason after reason to wave the white flag, the D'backs absolutely refused to quit at any point during their 12-11 triumph, which came just two days after they captured the Continental League Bat-A-Thon hitting title.
Early on, with ominous skies hovering, it looked as if it might be a low-scoring game.
With one out in the top of the first, the always sure-handed Cornacchia scooped up a grounder in front of first base and forced the runner out of the baseline. Although the next batter singled, the Diamondbacks got out of the inning unharmed.
In the home half of the first, McDowell and Corritore hit back-to-back singles with two outs, but the Dodgers escaped unscathed.
The Dodgers jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the second, scoring all five runs with two outs. With two outs and a runner on first, it looked like the game might remain scoreless, but the next four hitters singled to give the visitors a 2-0 advantage and set the stage for Morgans. Delivering the first big blow of the game, Morgans smashed a three-bagger that plated a trio of Dodgers and ended the half-inning due to the five-run rule. In the inning, Mersch and Cornacchia each made nice plays in the outfield to prevent runners from advancing, but those efforts proved to be just temporary salves for the D'backs.
In the bottom of the second, Reid and Gibian stroked consecutive singles with one out, but the inning ended with the Diamondbacks still looking to score their first run.
The Dodgers threatened again in the top of the third, but couldn't add to their lead. With runners on first and second and one out, Rodgers made the key play of the inning when he fielded a grounder at the hot corner and tagged the runner heading for third.
The D'backs broke through with a pair of two-out runs in the top of the third. After the first two batters were retired, Brunner and Cornacchia singled. Then, McDowell sent a single past first base that scored Brunner and moved Cornacchia to third. Corritore followed with an RBI single of his own to cut the Diamondbacks' deficit to 5-2.
In the top of the fourth, with the bases loaded and two outs, a Dodgers batter hit a bullet toward first base that had extra bases (and, possibly, grand slam) written all over it. Undaunted, Reid vacuumed up the hard-hit ball and tagged the bag to end the half-inning and give his team a huge lift.
After Hortua crushed a double to center to lead off the home half of the fourth, Reid sent a well-hit ball to the left side, but the Dodgers' shortstop snared it out of the air to rob him of a base hit. On the play, Hortua alertly went back to second to avoid getting doubled up. Then, Gibian moved Hortua to third with a groundout to first, and Villalobos plated the speedster with a two-out single. The Dodgers' first baseman ended the frame with his second unassisted putout of the inning, this one taking a hit away from Rodgers.
The Dodgers doubled their advantage with two runs on four hits in the top of the fifth. Then, with the Dodgers leading, 7-3, and runners on first and second with nobody out, Gibian stopped the bleeding for the Diamondbacks with an unassisted putout at first. Although the runners moved up to second and third on the play, the D'backs got out of the inning without giving up any more runs.
Needing a big inning, the D'backs proceeded to, literally and figuratively, put on their rally caps in the bottom of the fifth. LeBuhn started things off with a single. After the next batter was retired, Brunner got a base hit to put runners on first and second with one out. Then, Cornacchia roped a double to score LeBuhn and move Brunner to third. McDowell and Corritore followed with back-to-back RBI singles, scoring Brunner and Cornacchia, respectively.
After Mersch legged out a single to load the bases with one out, Hortua clubbed his second double in as many innings to plate McDowell and Corritore and give the Diamondbacks their first lead of the game at 8-7. Due to the five-run rule, the inning ended with Mersch at third and Hortua at second.
In the top of the sixth, after the Dodgers' first two batters singled, Cornacchia came up with yet another big play. Playing second base, the lefty darted to his right, smoothly fielded a grounder behind the mound and, without hesitation, hurled it to Brunner at third to just beat the runner. After the next batter was retired, the Dodgers had runners on first and second with two outs. Shortly thereafter, as had happened before in the season, the D'backs were one strike away from victory. But the visitors were far from finished.
Starting with the batter who was down to his final strike, the Dodgers reeled off four consecutive clutch hits (single, single, double, single) and plated four runs. Although the next batter got out, the Dodgers carried an 11-8 advantage into the bottom of the sixth.
For the Diamondbacks, who had already lost three games in the final inning, it looked like deja vu all over again. And, adding insult to injury, right after the Dodgers took the lead, the precipitation that had been falling lightly and intermittently throughout the game suddenly became more and more intrusive.
With umbrellas popping up throughout the bleachers and around the field, it would have been easy for the D'backs to lay down and/or hope for a stoppage. Instead, they kept fighting.
After Reid and Gibian notched back-to-back base hits to start the final half-inning, Villalobos moved them over with a groundout to first. Then, Rodgers singled to score Reid and advance Gibian to third, and LeBuhn kept things going with an RBI single of his own. Although the next batter got out, the D'backs had the top of the order coming up.
With two outs, Brunner singled to load the bases. Although the Dodgers led, 11-10, at that point, for some reason - perhaps a combination of the excitement of the game and a wet scorebook - the Diamondbacks thought they were tied. With that in mind, when Cornacchia singled to the left side to score Rodgers, the entire D'backs contingent - from the players to the coaches to the parents, siblings and friends in and around the third-base side bleachers - started to celebrate. Even the Dodgers cleared the field, thinking they had lost.
Suddenly, though, the D'backs manager noticed the perplexed looks on the faces of the Dodgers' coaching staff, and realized that the game was tied, not over. After the Dodgers re-took their places in the field and the Diamondbacks' runners went back to their bases - LeBuhn at third, Brunner at second and Cornacchia at first - it was up to McDowell to win it.
Staying poised amid the chaos of the moment and keeping a laser focus on the ball as it traveled toward him through the rain, McDowell connected for a long single to right that scored LeBuhn and ignited a raucous party on the home side of the field.