Saturday, September 25, 1999

Sometimes it's better to be lucky

Reds win thanks to clutch broken-bat, check-swing hits

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Sean Casey drives in the game-tying hit in the sixth inning.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
| ZOOM |
        If the Reds make the postseason, the sixth inning of Friday night's 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals may be remembered as the biggest inning of the year.

        The Reds went into the inning trailing 4-1 and came out leading 5-4.

        Jeffery Hammonds started the inning with his 17th home run of the year.

        “That kind of said, "Let's get back in it,'” Sean Casey said.

        Pokey Reese followed with a single to left. Brian Johnson, pinch-hitting for Jason LaRue struck out.

        With pinch-hitter Dmitri Young batting, Reese nearly got picked off first base. A good throw would have gotten him.

        Then with Reese running, Young hit a broken-bat ground ball in the spot vacated St. Louis second baseman Adam Kennedy. That moved Reese to third base.

        Mike Cameron walked on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases.

        The inning seemed to lose its steam when Barry Larkin took a third strike. Larkin argued the call.

        Then came break No.2. Casey tried to check his swing, but the ball hit the bat.

        “It went right off the sweet spot of the bat,” Casey said. “I thought, "That's going to fall in.'”

        It did — right in front of left fielder Ray Lankford.

        Reese and Young scored to make it a 4-4 game.

        “A broken-bat single and a check-swing single,” Hammonds said. “That was the game right there. You can't defense that.”

        Said Casey: “You only get a few of those a year. To get one in that situation was big.”

        Greg Vaughn, who had driven in the Reds' first run, followed Casey to the plate.

        He punched a single through the middle to score Cameron and give the Reds a 5-4 lead.

        He was the man the Reds want up in those situations. The RBI was his 30th in the month of September.

        “I live for this time of the year,” he said. “This is when it's fun.”

        Sometimes you need a little luck to get to the postseason.

        “We battled and battled,” Reds manager Jack McKeon said. “Then we got an opening and we went right through it.”


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