by Michael McCleary
Carlos Cortes threw his arm in the air, his finger pointed toward the sky as a packed crowd at ?Red? Wilson field exploded with cheers. He rounded first and the dugout cleared, players jumping and screaming in celebration. As he rounded second, the bullpen had already made its way to the plate, anxiously waiting the most triumphant moment of the season. When he rounded third and started making his way to home, he picked up his speed and started to laugh.? He threw his helmet in the air and jumped.
?Carlos is back,? yelled a fan after the game.
Just two games removed from his lowest point of the season, Cortes, soaked in ice water, stained with dirt, shirt untucked and top button snapped, had reached his height.
?It?s incredible,? Cortes said, overflown with emotion and out of breath. ?We do some crazy stuff, we don?t go down without a fight.?
Carlos Cortes hit a walk off three-run home run to give the Red Sox the game one victory over the Whitecaps. The Red Sox rallied from 2-down in the bottom of the ninth to take the win, 8-5. In what was a defensive battle on both sides, Cortes turned in what may go down as the offensive play of the season.
?Look at all these fans,? Cortes said, panning over the stands as the crowd of over 2,000 Y-D faithful jumped and cheered. ?This is summer league and they are cheering like this is the last game they?ll go to. It?s cool to excite them.?
The statement victory did not come without any challenges. Early in the game, it looked like disappointment would describe the game for the Red Sox. Despite getting a good barrel on the ball for most of the game, the Red Sox had just six hits in the first eight innings.
In the first inning, Alfonso Rivas roped a ball to first base. The Brewster first basemen made an unbelievable catch to rob Rivas of a hit and caught the soon-to-be hero, Cortes, leaning too far off the base for the easy double play.
The Red Sox bounced back and showed it could play a little defense as well, making some plays to keep it in the game.? Rivas was on the other side of a hit-stealing grab, falling to his side and shielding his face to corral the ball and flip it to starting pitcher Andrew Quezada to record the second out of the inning.
The crowd stayed in the game the entire time, maintaining hope in the team?s ability to pull through when it mattered most. Multiple players have said all season long that a game is never out of reach, proven by the multiple comeback victories and walk off wins the Red Sox team has.
?They worked all year to bring these people here, it carried through? Manager Scott Pickler said of the season-high attendance on hand at the game. ?We knew we had a couple more at-bats, we?re not done until the last out.?
Y-D used every bit of the ninth inning to make its comeback possible.? Carter Pharis led off with a single and Drew Mendoza brought the winning run to the base, singling and putting runners on the corners. After the Red Sox scored its first run to bring the game to just one, a fielder?s choice on a hit by Nico Hoerner gave the Red Sox just one last chance to extend the game.
With two outs and two strikes, Kyle Isbel entered one of the biggest spots of the season for a Red Sox hitter and he delivered.
?You dream of this as a little kid, coming up in that spot, delivering,? Isbel said. ?In the post-season, it?s about five-times better, it?s the craziest feeling ever.?
Isbel roped a single that scored Jake Slaughter from second base. He turned to Hoerner who stood ninety feet away from him on second base and they began clapping loudly at each other.
Hoerner was so caught up in the excitement of the moment, he nearly was caught leaking too far off the base for the final out of the inning. Instead, the play brought up Cortes.
Just a few short days ago, Cortes, always filled with emotion playing the game he ?loves?, scratched his head and wondered when he would finally come around.? Now, in his first playoff game on the Cape, he?s the Red Sox top dog and he looks to be back for good.
?They know, the ninth inning is nothing new to us,? Cortes said. ?Just settle in, it will happen. They know.?
They do now.