With 2 outs in the 9th and the Spirit down 5-4, Darren Blakely hit a pop up to left, and it appeared to be over. I got up and started to walk out. The Pride were about to win in come-from-behind fashion.
But not on this night - on a night when the sellout crowd of 3,341 bought into the 'fun is good' mantra and created a tremendous atmosphere, a night when Vic Davilla came out of retirement for the 80000th time, and a night when the Spirit continued to finally show some pop.
There were a million story lines going into the bottom of the 9th: Vic's return, Josue Lopez's Golden Sombrero (0-4, 4 Ks), Torres's continued offensive excellence, the solid pitching of Josue Matos, and the not-so-solid pitching of Jamie Baker, who served up a 2-run, game tying homer in the 8th to Jermy Acey.
But the real storyline was about to unfold.
Jerod Edmondson, Nashua's left fielder, dropped Blakely's easy pop to left. Blakely reached 2nd.
Enter BJ Weed. He smokes a game tying single to lift, prompting some serious jubilation in the Fraser stands the likes of which I don't think I've ever seen, except maybe in playoff games.
In the top of the 10th, Nashua put runners on 1st and 2nd w/ 1 out. Matt Creighton smashed a line drive to right which Carlos Rodriguez handled. The runner on 2nd attempted to tag up and reach 3rd.... big mistake. Carlos Rodriguez GUNNED him out and ended the inning, prompting another standing ovation from the Fraser faithful.
Alex Trezza started the bottom of the 10th by reaching 2nd--- 2ND!!! --- on a dropped third strike. (In the many baseball games I've seen, I don't recall EVER seeing that happen. EVER!) Then Carlos Rodriguez sent everyone home happy with an absolute no-doubt screaming blast over the left field fence and into Jimmy Hurst territory near the trailers. Amazing. Absolutely amazing.
I didn't even go nuts when he hit the HR (I used up all of THAT energy when Weed tied the game) I just kind of sat there amazed and a little overwhelmed --- this probably rivals the Tony C night walkoff win over Brockton for the title of 'best ever Spirit regular-season home game.'
The Pride looked absolutely stunned and the Spirit were hopping around jubilantly. It was a great celebration and a deserving one for Rodriguez who was already a hero for his top-of-the-frame heroics. They were clearly pumped and could feel some serious momentum.
The Spirit now have 4 wins in a row - their longest streak of the season. Maybe the fight and getting smoked by Quebec brought them together. Or maybe their big bats are just starting to hit up to their potential. Either way, the offense is turning it around, and the pitching has been there all year (league leading 2.94 ERA going into tonight). With an easy part of the schedule coming up, this might just be the turning point we've been anticipating since day two of the season.
Vic Davilla hit a home run in his third-ever 'first game back', a solo dinger to dead center. Darren Blakely also had a smashed HR of his own early on. In addition, Mike Torres ripped an RBI single, adding up to an early Spirit 4-0 lead.
But the Pride chipped away at Spirit starter Josue Matos, who did pretty well in his debut appearance but was chased after narrowly escaping further trouble in the sixth.
The man/ninja/myth/hero/Lantigua-slaying legend Dennis Robinson made his return in the 7th and retired the Pride in order.
In the 8th, Jamie Baker struggled mightily. He walked the leadoff man (never a good sign) and gave up a 2-run opposite field blast to Jermy Acey to tie it. Then in the top of the 9th Billy "Simple Simon" fared no better. He also walked the leadoff man, Luis Rodriguez. With runners on 2nd & 3rd and 2 out, Simon threw an awful wild pitch that skipped past Trezza and let Rodriguez in the back door, stunning the Spirit and giving Nashua a 5-4 lead.
It appeared to be a lost cause, then --- the Spirit had complete control of the game and let it go to waste. They were going to fall back to .500 and lose a game they should have won.
But it was not to be. Hooray drama!
What an awesome night at the ballpark.
It's nights like these that make all the rest of them worth it... this was the Spirit experience at its best. Here's hoping it's not the last time we get that magical feeling this year.
Post script: QUEBEC LOSES TO NEW HAVEN, 7-3! Perfect. AND Atlantic City's 3-1 win over Worcester means the Spirit are a half game back of the magic #4 spot in the league table.