FIGUEROA WALK-OFF HOME RUN WINS FIRST TITLE FOR MINERS
September 15, Augusta, NJ – All season long, the Sussex County Miners found ways to score runs with two outs in an inning. And in Game 4 of the Can-Am League Championship Series, they would find a way one more time to get the timely hit.
Martin Figueroa‘s three-run home run—his second home run of the game—capped one last two out rally as the Miners became the 2018 Can-Am League Champions with a 6-5, come-from-behind victory over the defending champions, the Québec Capitales, on Saturday night at Skylands Stadium.
As was the case in Game 3, Québec got on the board first. Yordan Manduley hit a sacrifice fly and a David Salgueiro single gave the Capitales a 2-0 lead. Sussex County would claw one run back on a Christian Correa RBI double, but Québec would get that run right back on a solo home run by TJ White. And through the first three innings, the Capitales had a 3-1 lead.
Québec would stretch the lead to 4-1 in the fourth when Miners starter Cory Jones would get into a bases loaded jam and then walk White on a full count pitch. Undeterred, the Miners would again start to scratch their way back into the game. Figueroa would hit the first of his two home runs on a high fly ball over the wall in right field to cut the Québec lead down to 4-2 as the two teams went to the seventh.
The Miners would pull yet another run back in the seventh when playoff stalwart Daniel Mateo would get an RBI single off of Capitales reliever Brett Lee to cut the score to 4-3. Lee came on for Bobby Blevins, who used his veteran experience to give the Capitales 6 2/3 innings of solid pitching. Québec would get an insurance run in the ninth when Nick Van Stratten would hit a solo home run off of Miners reliever Kevin Grendell. The home run was the only hit Grendell would allow all postseason, but with it the Miners were down 5-3 going to the bottom of the ninth.
Enter the two out, late game heroics one last time.
Audy Ciriaco would pull a two out pitch through the left side for a base hit. Mateo would be next, and he would pull a ball to the right side. White would make a fine diving stop deep in the hole, but could not complete the throw and the Miners had runners at first and second base for Figueroa.
There would be one more pitch in the 2018 season.
Figueroa swung at the first pitch he saw and sent the ball deep over the wall in right field for a three run home run and sent his teammates—as well as the raucous crowd of 1,391 fans on hand—into delirium as the Miners would walk off with a 6-5 win, and a three games to one series victory. The walk-off home run, which was reminiscent of Joe Carter’s home run or the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1993 World Series, was only the second walk-off home run in Miners history, with the other coming in their inaugural season of 2015. Grendell earned the win for the Miners, while Bayless took the loss for Québec.
This marks the Miners first championship in franchise history in just their fourth season. There have now been five different champions in the last five years in the Can-Am League, following Rockland (2014), Trois-Rivières (2015), Ottawa (2016), and Québec (2017).
Article: Bret Leuthner
Photo: Dennis Mark