2013: A Chiefs Odyssey – #2

2. Wal-koff

The Chiefs, as previously detailed, had a few memorable game-ending moments this year. There were Jimmy Van Ostrand’s walkoff hits in back-to-back home wins. There was Francisco Soriano’s shocking 14th-inning double to beat Columbus. There was even a walkoff relay to home plate in Pawtucket.

Were they all unforgettable endings? No doubt. But there’s nothing in baseball quite like a walkoff home run. The loud crack of the bat. The moment where the batter’s follow-through has finished and the entire stadium stands frozen in wait. The majesty of a baseball being shot higher and higher into the air, practically scraping the base of a cloud as if feverishly launched from a cannon. The tension of an outfielder pausing at the wall and determining whether or not he’ll make a leaping attempt. There’s something beautiful about the whole endeavor that transcends pure sport.

This type of poetic moment, however, had only occured once at NBT Bank Stadium since August 12, 2010, when Seth Bynum blasted off a game-winner in the 13th inning to nudge Columbus. And believe it or not, the one time it happened between that date in August 2010 and August 20, 2013 – the one time somebody ended a game in NBT Bank Stadium with a home run – it wasn’t by the Chiefs. It was against them. Remember this?

Yes, way back when in the good old days of 2012, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailR…no, sorry, they were still the Yankees…didn’t have a standing stadium and had to play all their games against Syracuse at NBT…no, wait, it was still Alliance Bank Stadium back then…and as such, had the final turn at bat in half of those games. So when Russell Branyan launched a ball halfway to Oswego, it meant the Chiefs were walked off upon in their own building.

But on August 20th of this past year, the Chiefs were the home team in their own park. That meant they got to bat in the bottom of the eighth, trailing Indianapolis 2-0 against former Yankees setup man Kyle Farnsworth. And that set the stage for this, from Danny Espinosa…

And this, from Chris Marrero…

Vic Black would retire Will Rhymes to end the threat and send the game to the ninth in a 2-2 tie. After former Indian Mike Crotta tossed a scoreless top of the inning, the Chiefs had a chance to win it with one swing. And who better to do that than the International League’s co-home run leader in 2013…Mr. Zach Walters?

Walters wouldn’t hit another home run in 2013. He certainly went out with a bang. I talked about the night a bit more in my postgame wrap-up afterward:

It was a truly magical night by baseball standards – the most magical of the Chiefs’ season in 2013…but it wasn’t the most memorable Syracuse baseball moment of 2013. Why not?

Find out on Monday. We’ll see you then.

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