PCL baseball • Catcher Luke Carlin an unlikely hero.
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The Salt Lake Bees had come far, but needed to stretch just a bit further. In the 10th inning of a four-and-a-half hour game, it seemed that extra push would never come.
But hold it: Here was Luke Carlin, the catcher who had yet to hit a home run this season. With two strikes, and his team crossing their fingers while peering on from the dugout, he launched a ball over the right-field fence.
A walk-off home run from the guy who had still been hunting for his first hit of the day.
In a game of surprises, Carlin provided the last one Sunday in an 8-7 extra innings victory over Nashville with his two-run moon shot. Salt Lake had battled furiously to stay alive, rallying in the ninth and 10th, and Carlin's homer capped that effort.
"I haven't seen it happen too often, to be honest," Carlin said of the comeback. "Just the makeup of the guys on the team to go out there and put hits together they didn't walk us. We got our hits to win the game."
The Bees had been leading since the bottom of the sixth, but a ninth-inning disaster put the Sounds on the brink of a win. Closer Chad Cordero didn't close only a strike away from finishing the game, allowing a three-run double by Josh Prince to put Salt Lake in a 5-3 hole.
Needing some runs, the Bees got them. Brad Hawpe knocked an RBI double entering the game in the ninth. Andrew Romine brought him home on a groundout to second, tying up the contest.
But celebration gave way to another uphill battle after Jeremy Berg gave up two more runs in the tenth, struggling to locate his pitches. But the lineup didn't give into panic, as Luis Rodriguez and Matt Long were able to get aboard. Rodriguez scored on a groundout, setting up Carlin for the jaw-dropping finish.
"It's a crazy game," manager Keith Johnson said afterward. "You never know when you're out of it, and you never know when you're about to score the winning run."
The contest would've been defined by missed opportunities if the Bees had fallen. The team was only 4-for-20 with runners in scoring position and stranded 16 on base for the game.
Jarrett Grube gave Salt Lake a good start, giving up only two runs over six innings and piling up eight strikeouts. The Bees were trailing until the sixth, when Roberto Lopez and Jimmy Swift runs to grab a 3-2 lead.
Outfielder Kole Calhoun made a solid return off the disabled list, his first game back since fracturing his wrist in the season opener. Calhoun went 2-for-5 with a walk.