With a buzz of an appearance by actor Bill Murray, maybe it was fitting that the Kansas City T-Bones (57-43) took their playoff hopes down to the final out and the final minutes on the final day of the season Monday afternoon.
In a script that would make Hollywood proud, the T-Bone blew a ninth inning save only to come back and walk off winners 9-8 over the St. Paul Saints (48-52).
While scoreboard-watching most of the afternoon and trailing a good portion of a must-win day, Kansas City got an RBI single from Chantz Mack to walk off winners in the bottom of the ninth.
As the inning unfolded the Gary SouthShore RailCats walked off winners in Indiana, meaning no matter what the T-Bones did they would not advance. Instead a three-way tie occurred once Fargo-Moorhead lost to Winnipeg in Canada a half-hour later.
The T-Bones needed three things to happen Monday and got two of them, which in the end meant the club came up one game short on making their first playoff appearance since 2010 and their first as members of the American Association.
In a valiant run reaching the second most wins in franchise history – 57 – and overcoming the loss of three front-line players to affiliated ball and three other starters’ late-season injuries, the team was left with the bittersweet feeling that comes with the final game of the season.
The script looked like it was over early as St. Paul built a lead of 5-0 and 6-1 through three and a half innings. Going into the bottom of the fourth Kansas City trailed 6-1 but chipped away with an RBI single from Cedric Hunter to cut the lead to 6-2.
The T-Bones scored one more on a Tucker Pennell single and it was a 6-3 ball game. An inning later it was Jordan Edgerton who had an RBI double and the Saints’ lead was trimmed to 6-4.
In the sixth Hunter was at it again with a two-run home run off Brandon Peterson to tie the game at six. Kansas City grabbed the lead in the eighth inning with one out on a solo homer from Pennell off Ken Frosch and with both other scores in the T-Bones favor the club went to the ninth with the lead.
Cody Winiarski gave up a two-out bases-loaded single to Mitch Delfino to give St. Paul the lead back at 8-7. But Kansas City battled back in the home half of the ninth against Vinny Nittoli.
Kevin Keyes, who was named the teams Player of the Year before the game, got a leadoff walk. Jordan Edgerton moved him to second on a sacrifice bunt. With one out Niko Vasquez doubled Keyes home to tie it just as Gary’s win over Lincoln went final. That set up the walk-off win for Kansas City with the Mack single to notch win number 57.
In the end Kansas City, Gary and Fargo-Moorhead were tied with 57-43 records. Kansas City and Gary both owned the tie breaker over Fargo but the T-Bones finished 6-7 against Gary including only going 1-5 at home against the RailCats despite a 5-2 record on the road.
Cody Winiarski (5-1) got the relief win while Vinny Nittoli (2-3) was charged with the loss.
– Story from T-Bones