By Pat Turner
Wolff Stadium was set for a big celebration for Cinco de Mayo as the biggest crowd since July 4, 2004, was on hand Saturday night.
There was plenty going on this night.
San Antonio went into the contest against Corpus Christi with a four-game winning streak, a one-game lead over the Hooks in the Texas League South Division and a mascot name change.
On this night, the Missions went by the Flying Chanclas as part of a Minor League “Copa de la Diversion” promotion for the 2018 season.
Of course, no Cinco de Mayo party would be complete without fireworks This night had plenty. In addition to the usual Saturday post-game show, the Chanclas created some of their own in the ninth inning, the loudest coming from Kyle Overstreet’s walk-off slam that capped a six-run rally in a 9-8 victory before 8,337.
“It was a fun night,” said Overstreet, who had a two-run homer earlier in the contest. “It was a great night. It was great to win like this. I never imagined it would be a night like this. That was actually my first walk-off home run. I really liked the Chanclas. It was great seeing all the fans wearing the Chanclas gear and cheering.”
Prior to the comeback, the Chanclas were fairly-quiet offensively, with the exception of Overstreet’s two-run shot in the second and Peter Van Gansen’s RBI single in the fourth. Corpus Christi was causing most of the noise, especially Taylor Jones, who came a triple away from hitting for the cycle while driving in three runs to lead the Hooks to a 6-3 lead.
The came the wild and crazy ninth.
The Chanclas got charged up for the grand finale with a couple explosions early in the inning that led to the ejections of San Antonio manager Phillip Wellman and third baseman Ty France.
Wellman made his exit in the top of the frame while Corpus Christi was extending its lead to 8-3 with two runs.
Alex De Goti lined a double down the right-field line and stole third. He made it to the base safely and scampered home after France lost the ball. However, the third baseman appeared to have wiped out the runner when he retrieved the ball and delivered a perfect strike to catcher Austin Allen.
Third base umpire Ryan Houchen called France for obstruction, enabling De Goti to score. The call led to a heated protest and Wellman’s first ejection of the season. Corpus Christi added another run when Myles Straw walked and scored on an error following Yordan Alvarez’s double.
That set the stage for the biggest comeback of the season.
Corpus Christi reliever Framber Valdez’s two walks and a fielding error loaded the bases. Josh Naylor then drew a base on balls to bring a run across the plate and France followed with an apparent RBI single. However, umpires ruled the Hooks called time before the hit and the run was disallowed.
France argued the call with plate umpire Cody Oakes and that led to his departure. When order was restored, River Stevens batted in his place with a 1-2 count and ended up being walked to bring the deficit to 8-5.
Sean Stutzman took over Corpus Christi’s pitching and began with a strikeout. Then Overstreet launched the game-winning slam over the left-fence, sending Wolff Stadium into a frenzy.
“I was looking to help anyway I can,” said Overstreet, who played his college baseball at Alabama. “When I hit it, I thought I got it pretty good. It’s tough to hit it out of here sometimes. I was just thankful it went out and helped us win the game.”
Wellman had to watch one of the best comebacks in Wolff history on his office television, but the San Antonio manager still got a thrill from the ending.
“That was unbelievable wasn’t it,” Wellman said. “That was a great win. It was exciting. You want a ballclub that doesn’t get down or panic and takes what the pitcher gives you. We did that.”
Because of Saturday’s triumph, the Missions enter Sunday’s game with a five-game winning streak and two-game edge over Corpus Christi, not to mention another confidence boost.
“Coming from behind is something this team has been good at all year,” Overstreet said. “We always show fight. To win like this is big for us. It’s always easy to lay down in situations like these. But to come back like we did in the ninth is going to help us.”