It was nearly three years to the day, and five playoff games, since the York Revolution last won in the postseason, dating back to the 2014 season.
With one swing of the bat, however, Telvin Nash changed all of that on Wednesday night, Sept. 20.
In the bottom of the 10th inning during Game 1 of the Atlantic League Freedom Division Championship Series against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, Nash hit a walk-off two-run home run to left-center field to lift the Revs to a 5-3 win at PeoplesBank Park.
"It's a big win," Nash said. "It's not really about me, it's about the team. That's a big win for us right there. We battled. We took a lead, they came right back and we never gave up."
After the first two York hitters were retired in order to begin the inning, Rubi Silva kept the bottom of the 10th alive with a double off the Arch Nemesis. That set the stage for Nash to play hero. It didn’t seem like he caught all of it, but it kept carrying until it settled over the fence.
“As a hitter, they always tell you, when you don’t feel it, then you know you got it good,” he said.
The shot by Nash salvaged a game that the Revs led for much of the night and never trailed, yet needed extras to win.
Facing the Blue Crabs' ace, Gaby Hernandez, who entered with a 14-5 record and 2.80 ERA, York got to him early to build a quick lead.
The Revs struck first with a run in the bottom of the first to take a 1-0 lead and then looked to blow the game open in the second frame. With the bases loaded and nobody out, York was in line for a big inning. However, the Revs could only manage two runs, coming on a sacrifice fly by Alonzo Harris to make it 2-0 and then an RBI single by Jared Mitchell to make it 3-0.
Even with the early lead, York let Hernadez and Southern Maryland off the hook and gave the Crabs some life.
"We could've got him a little bit more," manager Mark Mason said. "I thought we chased some pitches out of the zone that kind of helped him a little bit."
Hernandez settled in and pitched three scoreless innings to follow, while his offense slowly came to life. In the top of the fourth, Michael Snyder got the Crabs on the board by tagging Revs' starter Jay Gause with a solo home run to make it 3-1.
The solo homer was the only blemish in an otherwise dominant outing by Gause, who pitched six innings of one-run, two-hit ball.
"He threw strikes, seemed to get ahead of hitters and was challenging them," Mason said about Gause's start. "I thought his fastball was maybe the best that it's been in his last two or three outings and he had way better command of his breaking ball tonight."
At 90 pitches after six innings, Gause probably had some left in the tank to begin the seventh, but it would've been on a hitter-to-hitter basis. Mason likes to bring in his relievers to start innings and let them have their own frame and start clean, so he lifted Gause and went to his bullpen.
Joe Van Meter pitched a scoreless seventh and Ricardo Gomez got the first two outs of the eighth quickly. A broken-bat single and a walk, however, kept the inning alive for the Crabs and L.J. Hoes made it count, tying the game with a two-run double into the left-center gap. Chase Huchingson entered after to clean up the mess.
The two teams stayed tied through nine innings and, after Grant Sides pitched a perfect top of the 10th for the Revs, it set the stage for the team to walk it off in the bottom half.
"It's always big to get the first one," Mason said. "With two games here and three down there, we needed to get at least one and it makes it a lot less pressure now after getting the first one."
York out-hit Southern Maryland in the game, 11-5, but recorded seven of those in the first four innings. After that, the Revs didn't register a hit until the eighth inning, when a pair of singles started a mini rally, only to be ended by an inning-ending double play.
Game 2 of the best-of-five series is set for Thursday night at PeoplesBank Park, with the final three games (Games 4 and 5 if necessary) slated to be played at Southern Maryland. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org