As baseball fans, we can watch a lot of games without seeing a walk-off grand slam. These are rare feats, very exciting finishes to a game that only happen once in a blue moon.
Last night at Cheney Stadium Tacoma’s Drew Ellis lined a game-winning grand slam to left-center with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, capping a five run rally and giving Tacoma a 7-6 win over the Round Rock Express. Hey, I’ve got an idea, let’s watch it again!
Drew Ellis WALKOFF GRAND SLAM!! pic.twitter.com/zhPjxGo4un
— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) September 22, 2022
It was the seventh time since the year 2000 that Tacoma has won on a game-ending grand slam. Two of them have come this season – it’s the first time it has happened twice in one year – and amazingly both times it has been against the Round Rock Express.
That’s right: Tacoma has played Round Rock just five times this season, and two of the games the Rainiers have won on walk-off grand slams. Alex Blandino did it to them on June 10th, in the late night game that was delayed due to Round Rock’s travel problems.
Perhaps you attended one of the other games that ended with a salami? Here’s the complete list since the turn of the century:
- Sept 21, 2022 – Drew Ellis vs. Round Rock off RHP Nick Snyder, for a 7-6 win (one out)
- June 10, 2022 – Alex Blandino vs. Round Rock off RHP Demarcus Evans for a 6-4 win (7-inning game due to travel delay)
- June 24, 2019 – Chris Mariscal vs. El Paso off RHP Trevor Megill, for a 7-4 win in tenth inning (two outs)
- August 9, 2014 – Stefen Romero vs. Fresno off RHP Erik Cordier, for a 13-10 win (one out)
- August 17, 2013 – Carlos Peguero vs. Colorado Springs off RHP Logan Kensing, for a 5-3 win (one out)
- May 2, 2007 – Wladimir Balentien vs. Colorado Springs off LHP Mike Gallo, for a 6-3 win (two outs)
- August 20, 2004 – A.J. Zapp vs. Fresno off RHP David Aardsma, for an 11-7 win (one out)
The most memorable one for me is A.J. Zapp’s. It completed a nine RBI game for him, which is the most anyone has had in a game during my tenure and is believed to be the franchise record (we don’t have complete records of this type of thing going all the way back to 1960, unfortunately). The affable Aardsma was a touted SF Giants prospect at the time; years later he played for Tacoma at the end of his career and promptly told his new teammates about the time he allowed a walk-off grand slam in this park.
We have not had an Ultimate Grand Slam this century, although last night was very close. For an Ultimate Grand Slam, there need to be two outs in the inning, and the team must be trailing by three runs. In other words, you’re down to your last out, and only a grand slam can win the game. In the list above, you can see that Ellis’s is the first to happen with the team trailing by three runs, giving Tacoma a one-run victory.
I wish we had a list of all of the walk-off grand slams going back to 1960 – there are probably about ten more. Longtime Rainiers employee Kevin Kalal remembers Orsino Hill (father of current Rainiers outfielder Derek Hill) hitting one for the Tacoma Tigers against Calgary in 1992, but my internet search came up with nothing (an hour spent researching The News Tribune’s archives at the Northwest Room in the downtown Tacoma library would probably turn up an article on that one).
Last night’s slam was seemingly conjured out of nothingness. Tacoma trailed 6-2 going to the bottom of the ninth inning, and it really just felt like a dud of a loss, try to bounce back tomorrow situation. Six batters later, celebration time.
As the late Joaquin Andujar once said, “the one thing I know about baseball is, you never know.”
YESTERDAY: Tacoma scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth inning and stunned Round Rock on Wednesday night, 7-6. Trailing 6-2 going to the bottom of the ninth, Cade Marlowe led off the inning with his first Triple-A home runs. The Rainiers then loaded the bases with one out, and Drew Ellis launched a walk-off grand slam to give the Rainiers a 7-6 victory. Tacoma pulled into a tie with Las Vegas for second place in the division.
TODAY: Round Rock Express (76-67) at Tacoma Rainiers (69-74), 7:05.
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: Texas Rangers.
OPPOSING MANAGER: Matt Hagen
SEASON SERIES: Tacoma leads, 3-2.
PITCHERS: RHP Cole Winn (9-7, 6.31) at LHP Tommy Milone (3-1, 2.55)
ROSTER MOVES: Yesterday the Mariners called up outfielder Jarred Kelenic, and optioned Taylor Trammell back to Tacoma. The team also announced the call-up of catcher Luis Torrens, who had been listed on the Tacoma roster but was actually travelling with the Mariners on the taxi squad.
HOT HITTERS: Mason McCoy has a four-game hitting streak, and he has reached base safely in 24 of his last 25 games… Jonathan Villar has homered five times and driven in 12 runs during an 11-game hitting streak… Marcus Wilson has hit safely in five straight… Forrest Wall is 11-for-32 over his last eight games… Drew Ellis has a five-game hitting streak.
OPPONENT NEWS: Round Rock has faded down the stretch, losing seven of the last nine games… former Rainiers and Mariners outfielder James Jones is now a relief pitcher with Round Rock… Seattle native Josh Sale (Bishop Blanchet High School) and Federal Way’s Nick Tanielu (Federal Way High School, Washington State University) are with the Express… infielder Ezequiel Duran and starting pitcher Cole Winn are the most decorated prospects on the Round Rock roster… Elier Hernandez has a seven-game hitting streak.
BROADCAST: All games will be broadcast free on a live audio stream which is available right here.
Unfortunately, there is no traditional terrestrial radio station carrying the games at this time.
PCL SCOREBOARD: Follow all league games in real-time with links to broadcasts and Gameday screens right here.
- The Mariners offense continued to sputter in another loss at Oakland last night. On the plus side, they are scoring runs in a day game as I type this.
- Here’s what Jarred Kelenic had to say upon returning to the big leagues.
- Baseball America has tabbed Double-A starting pitcher Taylor Dollard as the Mariners minor league player of the year.