In the first game of a double header, Lehigh Valley clung to a 2-0 lead with a man on third. IronPig starter, Tyler Cloyd, had made a living all season being calm and successful in getting out of jams such as this.
Stepping to the plate was major league veteran Bill Hall. The momentum started to swing to the Norfolk Tide in the same manner it had recently fallen for the IronPigs. Then the sound of the bat left a collective groan from the crowd as the ball headed to the left field gap.
In left is Domonic Brown. The lanky outfielder has been rung through the ringer since his meteoric rise in 2010 that landed him with the Phillies for the stretch run. Since that time, Brown has not caught a break.
If he could just stay healthy, he will get into a groove and continue to grow as a ball player. Brown suffered from a broken wrist to start 2011 and only began to hit his stride at the end of that season. This season, Brown again was bitten by the injury bug as well as a mixture of outstanding plays that leave you breathless and others that make you scratch your head like the play in Wednesday's game against Norfolk.
In the game before, Lehigh Valley had been rallying with two outs in the ninth inning and down 3-1. Brown, back after resting his knee for a couple games, did not look good all night at the plate. He was able to get a grounder to find its way through for a single that pushed Kevin Frandsen to third.
Jason Pridie followed with a single to center field to score Frandsen, but Brown saw something and thought he could round second and make it to third. Centerfielder Xavier Avery threw a perfect strike to throw out Brown and end the game.
"I thought I had more in the tank than that," Brown admitted after the game. "To go from first to third with two outs. I've got to know better than that."
Sandberg was quick to defend Brown indicating he was not the reason for the loss. "We had other chances to win [that game]," Sandberg said.
Brown, was visibly displeased with his own play and characterized his at-bats as "terrible".
"[It] felt good to get back out there of course, but I've got to do more," Brown said.
Two nights later, Brown came out like a man possessed. Focused at the plate, the lefty belted out four hits in Friday's double header at Coca-Cola Park. His two hits in the first game were key in giving Cloyd the 2-0 lead. Each of his singles advanced runners who eventually scored.
In the fourth inning of that game, Hall's liner screamed toward the outfield wall. Brown turned and with his long strides, raced toward the wall and gained ground. At the precise moment, Brown dove and caught the third out of the inning.
The crowd, instantly awed, gave Brown a roaring standing ovation as he galloped into the dugout where his teammates greeted him.
Cloyd completed the seven-inning complete game shutout in large part to Brown's efforts.
"It was game-saving," Sandberg said. "I think just a guy of his size makes that catch. He made up the last 20 feet with his size and with the dive. That's one of the better catches all year."
Not only did it make ESPN's SportCenter's No. 2 play of the day, it carried over to the weekend where it was ranked as the No. 2 play of the week.
If you missed it, the play can be found on YouTube.
During last Wednesday's 3-2 loss, Christmas in July was celebrated with the players wearing some of the ugliest uniforms in the history of the game. Wearing his 'santa-like' uniform, Kevin Frandsen sent a solo blast over the left field wall for his first homer of the season.
After giving 100-percent effort each play of every game, Frandsen got a "Christmas in July" present: A phone call from the Phillies
"He deserves this because he's is the hardest worker on the team. He is the leader of the team, on the field and in the clubhouse," Sanderg told local media.
In his first game against the Braves, Frandsen played third and had two hits.
In his Pigs debut, the first of the Baby Aces to reach AAA, Jonathan Pettibone, pitched a strong five innings in getting a no-decision. He gave up two runs on five hits.
Unfortunately, he will not make his debut at Coca-Cola Park till the next week. After today's fifth and final game in Syracuse, the IronPigs come home for two games against Pawtucket and then hit the road until next week.