By Robert Balajadia
The score was tied 9-9 in the top of the ninth inning with the bases loaded for Da Braves with two outs. Jared Palomo then put on his Superman cape and slugged a grand slam deep left that helped the Braves win Game 4, 13-9, and take a commanding 3-1 series lead against the Crown Bakery Phillies in the Budweiser Baseball League Championship Series.
“I can’t really explain it. I was just happy and excited I could come through. Right before my at bat, I told my self, ‘I had to do this.’ Off the bat, I knew it was gone and I was thrilled,” said Palomo who was celebrating his first ever grand slam, and second home run in the series.
The Phillies were given a final shot in the bottom of the 9th to extend or win the game but Braves reliever John Pangelinan came in for the injured Jerome Andrew, who appeared to have pulled a muscle on a pitch, and put a lid on it.
Da Braves had built a 9-4 lead through 5 1/2 innings of play when the Phillies quickly closed the gap off a two-run double from Calvert Alokoa, that brought in three runs off an error to pull the game within two, 9-7.
Miller Santos then tied the game in the bottom of the eighth inning off a two-run home run with the momentum shifting in favor of the Phillies.
Braves’ Carl Quintanilla started the ninth inning with a lead-off single and was then moved to second base after Phillies pitcher Eric Cepeda walked Dominic Cruz. Da Braves’ John Sarmiento tried to advance the runners by bunting, but was eventually struck out by Cepeda.
JQ Quintanilla followed up for the Braves by hitting the ball towards third base, where Carl was tagged out, but an error on the throw to first base allowed JQ to prevent the inning’s end.
BJ Balajadia stepped up the at-bat later during the pressure situation and cashed in a clutch hit on the ball while barely beating the throw to first base to load the base.
Palomo then came in and hit the ball so hard that everyone in the stadium knew it was gone, including Palomo himself.
“Earlier in the game I was [swinging] the ball hard but I just wasn’t landing it. I was looking for one pitch and that first pitch was inside, and the umpire called it – that wasn’t the one. The next [pitch] though, that’s the one I was looking for all night.”
Palomo went 2-for-6 with five RBI while scoring two runs. Balajadia went 4-for-5 and scored four times while Cruz and Pete Guerrero had two RBI each.
Winning pitcher for Da Braves was Andrew who took over in the bottom of the seventh inning. Cepeda took the loss for the Phillies.
Santos went 2-for-4 for the Phillies with two RBI while Alokoa went 2-for-5 and two RBI.
Da Braves are preparing to play their final game of the season Friday night, but know that a team like the Phillies are not easy to put away.
Palomo stressed the importance of Friday’s Game 5 by saying, “a lot of it is preparation. We have to take it serious and we have to take care of ourselves. We are the more experienced, older team, so we really have to be prepared. We got to come back on defense, with our pitching. Our hitting has been unbelievable.”
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