Monday, November 05, 2001

D'Backs have the last comeback




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        PHOENIX — There was no air left to breathe. There were no fingernails left to bite. There was no place to be but the edge of one's seat. There is no way to say it except that it was extraordinary.

        The Arizona Diamondbacks dethroned the New York Yankees from baseball's throne Sunday night, winning the World Series with an improbable ninth-inning, Game 7 comeback against the incomparable Mariano Rivera. The final score was 3-2, the series an instant classic.

        Luis Gonzalez blooped a modest single over shortstop Derek Jeter to drive home the winning run with one out in the ninth inning. One inning earlier, Yankees rookie Alfonso Soriano had put the Yankees ahead 2-1 with a two-strike home run against Curt Schilling, who was making his second start on three days' rest.

        “That ain't going to beat us, big man,” Arizona manager Bob Brenly told Schilling upon removing him from the game. “You're my hero.”

        This time, Brenly's crystal ball was clear. This time, it was the Yankees who were unable to protect their lead in the bottom of the ninth. This time, Rivera was both human (a critical error) and hittable (three ninth-inning hits).

        “They certainly earned it, doing it against our best guy,” Yankee manager Joe Torre said.

        Having fanned three of four Arizona hitters in the eighth inning, Rivera returned to the mound for the ninth to face the bottom of the Arizona batting order, the outcome seemingly preordained.

        But Mark Grace led off the inning with a sharp single to center field. Brenly, playing for the tie at home, had Damian Miller bunt.

        Miller bunted badly, straight back to the mound. Rivera fielded the bunt and wheeled toward second base for what appeared to be an easy force play. But his throw tailed away from shortstop Derek Jeter and left the Diamondbacks with two runners on and no one out.

        Jay Bell then attempted another sacrifice, but Rivera pounced on it and forced pinch runner David Dellucci at third base. Then Tony Womack, on a 2-2 count, lined a game-tying double into right field.

        Rivera plunked Craig Counsell to load the bases for Gonzalez, whose 57 regular-season home runs now pale in comparison to the bloop single that delivered the first professional championship in Arizona history and ended Rivera's streak of 23 straight post-season saves.

        “That's the first time I choked up all year,” Gonzalez said. “I knew the infield was playing in. I didn't have to hit it hard, just loop something in there and get in play. That was a dream come true for me.”

        In a series that has been defined by ninth-inning drama, perhaps this was the only possible outcome. Except for the catastrophic relief pitching of Byung-Hyun Kim, the Diamondbacks had dominated the competition. Perhaps the Yankees had already pushed their luck to the limit. In seven games, the three-time defending champions hit .183 and totaled only 14 runs. Their three victories were all one-run games.

        “We realize how many times we snatched it away from people when they were close,” Torre said. “So you really have to take both sides of this thing.”
       E-mail tsullivan@enquirer.com. Past columns at Enquirer.com/columns/sullivan.

       



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- SULLIVAN: D'Backs have the last comeback
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Kentucky boys cross country
Kentucky girls cross country
Three make state volleyball tourney
Cyclones 2, Richmond 1
Jets 16, Saints 9
Rochester 3, Mighty Ducks 2

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Jaguars lose fifth in row
Xavier picked to win A-10 West
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Ohio second-round pairings
Ohio first-round scores
Colerain 30, Hamilton 7
Elder 38, Lebanon 13
Princeton 56, Anderson 20
St. Xavier 41, Northmont 6
Dayton Carroll 18, Roger Bacon 13
McNicholas 56, Mount Healthy 13
New Richmond 42, Ross 38
Piqua 21, Edgewood 0
Washington C.H. 39, Indian Hill 31
Wyoming 49, Jonathan Alder 21
Badin 23, Valley View 16
Coldwater 54, Madeira 14
North College Hill 41, Chillicothe Zane Trace 10
Reading 39, Wheelersburg 31
Covington 47, Williamsburg 14
Kentucky second-round pairings
Kentucky first-round scores
Ballard 43, Dixie Heights 32
Beechwood 56, Berea 6
Bellevue 27, Nicholas Co. 13
Covington Catholic 44, Harrison Co. 22
Highlands 49, Bourbon County 30
Holmes 24, Montgomery County 0
Lexington Catholic 54, Grant County 14
Lloyd 46, East Carter 0
Newport Central Catholic 56, Raceland 7
Paris 37, Holy Cross 6
Shelby County 19, Boone County 17
Indiana playoff pairings
Indiana playoff scores