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  • Tony Fiorello


Updated: Sep 27, 2023

Bisons infielder Tanner Morris attempts to hit a pitch on June 30th 2023 against the Worcester Red Sox. Photo courtesy of Buffalo Bisons.

After ending the first half of the 2023 regular season with a record of 34-41 and opening the second half by dropping two straight to the Worcester Red Sox, the Buffalo Bisons woke up.

That was accomplished by a walk-off, pinch-hit grand slam in the bottom of the 10th inning by Luis De Los Santos, whose winning hit sealed a 10-8 victory over the WooSox on Friday night at Sahlen Field.

“That was quite a game. That’s as exciting as it gets,” manager Casey Candaele said. “It was pretty cool and great for De Los Santos – he’s always been a great teammate, a really good player and a guy that deserves to have good things happen to him. That was awesome.”

Buffalo got on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the second inning when a solo shot by Addison Barger put the Herd up 1-0 and Tanner Morris made it 3-0 on a two-run double shortly thereafter. However, that was all the offense Buffalo would get until the ninth inning as they couldn’t find a way to scratch out a hit against a predominantly left-handed bullpen.

“Their guys out of the bullpen threw well there and made good pitches on us,” Candaele said. “We also had a mostly left-handed hitting lineup out there but we still kept the game close.”

As a result of not being able to score runs, Worcester took advantage of the Bisons’ woes by staking themselves a lead. Max Ferguson got a sac fly to get the Red Sox their first tally of the game in the fifth inning and Nick Sogard recorded an RBI single to make the score 3-2. Wilyer Abreu then smacked a three-run home run to put his team up 5-3.

That lead lasted until the ninth inning and then the comeback began. Rob Brantly got his first home run of the season to cut the Herd’s deficit to 5-4 and Morris collected a two-out base hit. With Cam Eden pinch-running – and stealing a base to boot – Nathan Lukes hit an RBI double to tie it up at five runs apiece. Lukes also tried to win it in regulation for Buffalo as a single by Davis Schneider nearly scored Lukes from second, but he was thrown out at home plate to send the game to extra innings.

Things once again began to look bleak for Buffalo as Daniel Palka gave the WooSox an 8-5 advantage via a three-run homer in the 10th. But the Bisons weren’t done. After Spencer Horwitz was hit by a pitch and Schneider got on base, Jordan Luplow recorded a base hit but Horwitz was called out on a fielder’s choice. Barger then made it 8-6 on an RBI single and Rafael Lantigua walked to load the bases with one out.

Following a popup by Otto Lopez and down to their last out, De Los Santos pinch-hit for L.J. Talley and sealed the win with his grand slam. It is believed to be the first walk-off, pinch-hit grand slam for the Bisons since Jerry McDonald did the deed in 1979.

“I just wanted to keep it simple,” De Los Santos said through an interpreter. “I understood that was a big moment and was just trying to slow things down as best as I could for myself.

“I knew that the pitcher liked to attack with the fastball and tried to pitch between the outer half of the strike zone to the upper part of the zone. I was just trying to stay on top of that and get a good pitch to hit.”

Candaele was hopeful that this win could potentially be the start of better things to come for his team.

“We didn’t finish how we wanted in the first half (under .500), but we had quite a few games where we battled in the late innings and came back from deficits and either won the game or were in a position to win a game,” Candaele said. “These guys have done it all year and they just don’t give up, and that’s a credit to them and how they go about it. Tonight was the culmination of this year and the comebacks that we’ve had, but these guys are very resilient and they battled to the end so it’s really cool.

“It just hasn’t seemed like we’ve gotten on a streak where we’ve put everything together consistently for a long run and this is a great time to do it. If this is the catalyst that that creates that then it’s a turning point in the season. Obviously in baseball, you can ride momentum and sometimes you get it taken away from you. But hopefully this will be that kind of situation where we can piece some things together and jell as a team and do a lot of the things right that make a team successful.”

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