Bases loaded. Two outs. Full count. To many, this is known as the greatest play in baseball. It’s also the situation Garrett Cooper found himself in Thursday night at Growden Park in the bottom of the eighth inning with the Alaska Goldpanners down two runs. It was the second time in as many days that Cooper found himself in a bases loaded situation with a chance to put his team in the lead. Things didn’t go his way Wednesday night as the ‘Panners fell.
Thursday night, however, Cooper came through on the greatest play in baseball.
On the sixth pitch of the at-bat, Cooper slammed the ball deep down center field. Bobby Brown crossed home. Then Chase Rodriguez passed home. Travis Warinner followed them both as Cooper’s hit resulted in a three-run RBI triple to put the Goldpanners in front of the Utah Marshalls 3-2 which is how it remained, giving the ‘Panners the win. It was the 14th time in 17 games the Goldpanners claimed victory as they moved to 19-7 on the season.
The previous day, Cooper went up to bat with the bases loaded and the ‘Panners down 7-5 in the bottom of the 11th inning. It appeared that Cooper hit the ball in play and sent at least one base runner home with a chance at more. The umpire ultimately ruled that the ball went foul, however, in a call that head coach Anthony Ferro argued fervently. The call stood, Cooper ultimately didn’t reach base, and Alaska lost for the first time in six games.
Cooper wasn’t leaving it up to officiating this time.
While Wednesday’s game was a hit-fest between the two teams, Thursday was a pitchers duel. Alaska out-hit Utah 5-4 with Goldpanners’ starting pitcher Javyn Pimental throwing an absolute gem as he struck out seven while giving up just two hits and one walk in seven innings of work. Cooper and Ferro credited Pimental with putting Cooper in position for the bases-clearing triple to win the game.
“Javyn pitched an outstanding game and gave us a chance to win,” Ferro said. “We’ve got to continue to get better offensively. We had a big hit there (in the eighth inning) and that was phenomenal. It couldn’t happen to a better kid.”
Things were scoreless until the top of the eighth inning. Tyler Franks stepped in to relieve Pimental at that point. Shane Taylor launched a two-run RBI single to score Trent Nielsen and Jack Johnston and give Utah a 2-0 lead. Nielsen had reached base on an error while Johnston had managed to advance due to a fielder’s choice, making both runs unearned.
In the bottom of the inning, Ryan Pierce was walked before David Martin was put out. Brown entered to pinch run for Pierce before Rodriguez was walked and Warinner was walked right after. Kaden Hogan then struck out before Cooper stepped up for what ended up being the game winning play. Franks collected a put out, a strike out, and a fly out to end the top of the ninth and the game.
The Goldpanners and the Marshalls played again Friday night in a game that ended after press time. The series will conclude on Saturday with a doubleheader that begins at 5 p.m.