Hessman completes Desert Dogs' unlikely comeback
By Jack Magruder
SCOTTSDALE--First baseman Mike Hessman saved his best for last, hitting a grand slam home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to cap a seven-run rally in Phoenix's walkoff 12-8 victory over Grand Canyon for the Arizona Fall League championship.
"Awesome," said Hessman (Braves), who was .124-3-14 in 89 at-bats during the regular season. "I told the guys I don't think I had two hits in one game until this."
Hessman also doubled and scored in the fifth as the East Division champion Desert Dogs battled back from a 7-1 deficit through 4 1/2 innings.
"We fought. We wouldn't give up. We were relentless," Phoenix manager Thad Bosley said.
Lamont Matthews (Dodgers) and Mark Ellis (Athletics) led off the Phoenix ninth with solo homers off Grant Balfour (Twins) to close the deficit to 8-7 before Joe Thurston (Dodgers) doubled.
Eric Hinske (A's) walked off Mark Outlaw (Phillies), and Thurston scored to tie the game when pitcher Kevin Frederick (Twins) picked up a chopping single down the third base line by Travis Wilson (Braves) and threw the ball past first. Wilson ended the season with a 16-game hitting streak.
After an intentional walk and a strikeout, Hessman hit an 0-1 slider from Frederick onto the grass berm over the bullpen in left field at Scottsdale Stadium.
"I couldn't believe it," Hessman said. "After the back-to-back homers, everyone in the dugout had the feeling we were going to pull it out."
Nick Roberts (Orioles) got the win in relief, while Outlaw took the loss despite pitching to only one batter.
Jason Michaels (Phillies) and Joe Jester (Giants) hit two-run homers for Grand Canyon in the fourth inning, and Michaels had a two-run single in the fifth. Michaels finished the year with 15 extra-base hits and 25 RBIs.
Grand Canyon outfielder Marlon Byrd (Phillies) was two feet short of the cycle, tripling off the right field fence in the top of the ninth, his second triple of the game. Byrd scored on Mike Cuddyer's grounder for an 8-5 lead.
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