It’s the situation every baseball player dreams of: Coming to the plate in the bottom of the ninth. Bases loaded. Tie ballgame.
Aaron Samaniego was in that very position Thursday night. And he delivered.
Samaniego scorched a hit to right field, scoring Blake Burrows, giving the Junction City Brigade a 7-6 win over the Topeka Golden Giants in the first of a three-game set.
The win gives Junction City a one-game lead in the MPL West Division over Topeka.
It capped the second comeback of the game for the Brigade. Entering the eighth, the Brigade trailed 5-1, mustering just five hits and their lone run on a Parker Dunn homer in the fifth.
But in the bottom of the eighth, the Brigade signaled they weren’t about to let Topeka off easily.
Down 5-1, pinch-hitter Grant Goldsten walked, and Burrows followed with a single. Carson Sader then lifted a soft fly into short right field, but the diving right fielder could not come up with the catch. With the bases loaded and no one out, Tanner Holen stepped to the plate, worked the count full, and then launched a grand slam over the left-field fence to tie the game.
Topeka would add a run in the top of the ninth, taking a 6-5 lead. But Junction City started an encore of its comeback. Tim Bell walked to open the inning. After Goldsten struck out, Burrows was hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second with one out. Sader then hit a ground ball that hopped over the second baseman’s head, allowing Bell to score. Sader ended up at second on the play, and Burrows third. Holen was intentionally walked, bringing up Samaniego. After fouling off a few pitches, he lined a ball to right field that landed just in front of the diving right fielder.
Junction City continues the series Friday at Rathert Stadium. Game time is at 7 p.m.