Broad Street Park reliever Nick Diaz worked his way out of a bases loaded jam and picked up the win for BSP. File Photo by Michael A. Sabo
By Rich Fisher
Aug. 9: There’s something at work here that we just don’t know about.
Whatever it is, Kyle Harrington wants it to keep working.
For the second time in three games, Harrington belted a walk-off home run with his team trailing to give Broad Street Park a miraculous, 4-3 victory over Vienna, Va., in the second round of the American Legion Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament in Purcellville, Va., Thursday.
Harrington has gone from MVP to WOD – Walk Off Dude.
“It’s like a movie,” manager Mike Petrowski said.
More like a movie sequel, as Harrington blasted a walk-off grand slam in the state final against Whitehouse in the state championship game two weeks ago.
“I’ve been struggling at the plate yesterday and today and I just tried to relax and put a good swing on it,” Harrington said. “At the same time I was thinking ‘Holy (crap) I just hit another walk off.’ So yes I was definitely a little beside myself. I was just happy that my team believed in me to come up big.”
It was another game in which Harrington was the ultimate hero, but Nick Diaz did some nifty relief work that might linger in the shadows of a game-winning homer.
BSP trailed for the first six innings, as Vienna scored runs in the first and third before Broad Street got one back in the fourth. After singles by Connor Luckie and Kiefer Goss, Darius Land lined a double to right to score Luckie, but Goss was thrown out at the plate to keep Vienna ahead.
Then came the fifth, when Diaz allowed an insurance run, but it could have been much worse. After Vienna scored, it still had the bases loaded with no outs. Much like he did against Whitehouse in the states, the reliever kept his team in it by proceeding to get a 5-2-3 double play and a swinging strikeout to freeze the score at 3-1.
“When they scored a run and still had bases loaded, I got really nervous for what was to come,” Harrington said. “I knew the only way that we were going to get out of it was a double play and it happened. Sean (Elefant, third baseman) and Luckie (at catcher) made a great play and then we got the third out that definitely boosted everyone’s confidence.
“We ended up not getting any runs in the bottom half but it still relaxed everyone that we were still right in the game. All in all it was a huge part of the game. If they blow it open who knows what could have happened.”
Then came the seventh. Kyle Time, if you will.
Known these days as Hammer Time.
Land, who’s always in the middle of something big, was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Brien Cardona followed with a single and took second on the outfield throw to put runners on second and third. With Harrington at the plate, Land scored on a wild pitch and Cardona advanced to third.
Harrington, allowing the drama to build, wasted several good pitches and worked the count full.
“I knew all I had to do at that point was do the job and put the ball in play,” he said. “My approach was just to hit something hard and let the rest take care of itself. I fouled off three pitches and got locked in. I took a curve for ball three and I had him timed up perfect. At that point, I told myself that I was going to crush something.”
Fortunately for Kyle, he also listened to himself, because the next pitch that came in went right back out, some 400-plus feet over the centerfield fence.
“I saw off-speed the whole day again,” Walk Off Dude said. “My first three at-bats, I think I saw two fastballs. Then the last at-bat he couldn’t throw his curve for a strike so I was sitting fastball and just wasting anything else. I got a fastball and drove it.
“When I saw the fastball I knew I was crushing it. The field plays deep and the fence is like 15 feet high, so I knew I was at least getting a double, maybe even stretching a triple out of it. Then I saw it hit the house and it was just instant relief.”
The blast put Broad Street at 2-0 in the regional play and set up a 7 p.m. game Friday with Wilmington, Del., which is also 2-0.
“Were hungry for these next couple of days, excited to see what is in store for us,” Harrington said. “Today we got a little ahead of ourselves, played a little sloppy with some bad base running and we still managed to come out and get the W.
“We know that when we play our game and we start piecing everything together we’re going to be a real tough matchup for anyone. We’re really confident going into the weekend, we just need to stay level headed and play the game that we know how.”
In other words, keep it close until the seventh and let Walk Off Dude go to work.
OK, it doesn’t always work that way. But it sure seems like it does these days.
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Cardona and Luckie each had two hits, while Diaz allowed one run, three hits, one walk and struck out three in three full innings. Starter Mason Fitzpatrick allowed two runs, four hits, two walks and struck out four in four frames. Adam Drosos gets the call against Wilmington.