Somehow, some way, the Boise Hawks found a way to win with their backs against the wall.
As a result, they will play one more game, and that contest will decide the Northwest League champion.
Boise defeated the Vancouver Canadians 3-2 on Saturday night in the second game of the league championship series.
The third and final game of the best-of-3 series will be played Sunday night at Memorial Stadium.
Last game of the year, right? Hawks manager Mark Johnson said. Youve got everything to play for. You work all year and all offseason for this one game. These kids dont know yet, but it doesnt come very often, these games. It may never come again.
Boise catcher Willson Contreras was at the center of all the action both good and bad but in the end, it was his line drive down the left-field line that won the game in the bottom of ninth inning. That drive sent his teammates into a wild celebration as they mobbed Contreras as he rounded the bases.
Im so happy, Contreras said. Im ready for (Sunday) and Im ready for my ring. We want a ring.
And theyll get a chance to play for that ring Sunday night, when the Hawks will be trying to win their first league title since 2004.
Vancouver scored the first run of the game in the second inning, thanks in large part to a Contreras error. Boise starter Pierce Johnson struck out Canadians right fielder Carlos Ramirez to seemingly end the inning, but the pitch hit the dirt and Contreras came up with the ball to make the throw to first. But that throw sailed over first baseman Dan Vogelbachs outstretched glove. The ball ended up in the Hawks bullpen in right field, and Ramirez ended up on third base. Ramirez then came home on a wild pitch to give Vancouver a 1-0 lead.
That lead held up until the seventh inning, when Boise scored one run and probably should have scored more than that one run, since it had the bases loaded with no outs.
But the only run Boise scored was on a wild play in which Contreras hit a twisting slow roller down the first base line.
Vancouver jumped back in front in the top of the eighth, and tried to nail down a 2-1 victory by going to closer Andrew Sikula with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. Sikula went 10-for-10 in his save opportunities in the regular season, and had nailed down three more wins in the playoffs.
But Stephen Bruno drove in Trey Martin with a double off Sikula in the eighth inning to tie the score at 2-2.
Boise reliever Nathan Dorris did his job in the top of the ninth, setting up the Hawks thrilling finish.
Jeimer Candelario led off the inning with a double. After a hit batter and a walk, the bases were loaded with no one out.
The next batter was Contreras, whose line drive won the game.
If anybody needed to do it, he did, Johnson said. Thats how the game works sometimes. It comes full circle after he made that error in the second inning. Obviously he felt terrible about it but then for him to come up and win the game, you cant ask for a better script.
It was a great game.
NOTES: First-round pick Albert Almora left the game after hitting the center-field wall while trying to make a catch. Johnson said Almora was not likely to play Sunday. Boise will start Tayler Scott (5-1, 2.52 ERA in the regular season) in Game 3. Vancouver will counter with Taylor Cole (6-0, .81 ERA).