VanMeter Walk-off Homer Gives Diamondbacks Comeback Victory over Rockies

Diamondbacks Rockies

Diamondbacks 5, Rockies 4

PHOENIX, Oct. 3 — The Arizona Diamondbacks climbed out of a 4–0 fifth-inning deficit to defeat the Colorado Rockies, 5–4, Sunday afternoon on a walk-off home run by second baseman Josh VanMeter.

The scoring started in the top of the second. Right fielder Sam Hilliard and first baseman Colton Welker opened with a walk and a single, respectively. Center fielder Yonathan Daza bunted them to second and third, bringing up catcher Dom Nunez with two runners in scoring position. His double gave the Rockies a 2–0 lead. Two batters later, left fielder Ramiel Tapia singled to left. Henry Ramos muffed it, allowing Nuñez to score. His throw home also went awry, allowing Tapia to reach second. This gave him the uncommon feat of two errors on the same play. Second baseman Garrett Hampson followed with a liner to first, ending the half-inning with the Rockies leading, 3–0.

It became 4–0 in the top of the fifth. Rockies reliever Daniel Bard led off with a single — the first hit of his career. He scored on a two-out triple by shortstop Brendan Rodgers. In the bottom of the inning, Jake McCarthy used his eye and his hustle to get the Diamondbacks on the board. First, he drew a one-out walk. As shortstop Geraldo Perdomo batted, McCarthy advanced to second on a wild pitch. Later in the at-bat, McCarthy swiped third. The throw by Nuñez sailed into left field, allowing McCarthy to chug home. This made the score 4–1. “That goes to show you the exciting player Jake is,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “But a lot more went into that — a lot more than people think. It was the patience of the at-bat, getting in sequence with the pitcher, understanding when the right time (was) to try it.”

Diamondbacks Continue Chipping Away at Rockies Lead

A two-out double by Geraldo Perdomo in the bottom of the seventh, followed by a David Peralta walk and Josh Rojas RBI single, made score 4–2. In the bottom of the eighth, a one-out walk by Kole Calhoun and single by Christian Walker gave Ramos an RBI opportunity. His single plated Calhoun and advanced Walker to third. Up came McCarthy, who hit a swinging bunt between home and the mound. Pitcher Tyler Kinley scampered off the mound and got the ball in first just in time to get McCarthy, but Walker also scored the tying run on the play.

A scoreless top of the ninth from reliever J.B. Wendelken gave the Diamondbacks a chance to win without having to go to extras and face the dreaded automatic runner. Pinch-hitter Ketel Marte led off with a mighty hack but flied to shallow center for the first out. Rojas followed suit, but to the left fielder.

The Hero

That brought up VanMeter. VanMeter said, “The two guys before me took pretty big swings (to) try to end the game, so I thought I’d just try to follow suit.” He worked the count to 2–2 before fouling off a fastball on the inner half to stay alive. After taking a changeup in the dirt to run the count full, he turned on a 98-mph fastball right down the middle. It soared deep to right, sailing over the right-field fence before landing 370 feet from home.

Gone.

“It’s kind of what everyone dreams about, right? Three–two, two outs, game-winning run. I was able to get the head out and get a ball in the air. That’s kind of where everything blacked out after I hit the ball. I remember standing at home plate, and I thought I hit it a lot better than I actually did, but man, what a moment. What a moment. Not just personally, but for everybody in that clubhouse.”

A Hero’s Welcome

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The jubilant Diamondbacks poured out of the dugout to greet VanMeter, who rounded the bases with glee. His first walk-off hit as a major leaguer ended the nightmarish season on a high note. The Diamondbacks, by winning, ran their record to 52–110, keeping them from tying the 51–111 2004 squad for the worst record in team history.

This also kept them from getting the first overall pick in the 2022 Amateur Draft, but that is something the team wanted to avoid. “Picking (first) for me meant that we were the worst team in baseball,” Lovullo said. “(That’s) nothing that I ever wanted to have happen. We were doing everything we possibly could to avoid picking number one. I’m proud to say that we fought all the way to the very end. We scored three or four runs in the last couple of innings to avoid that number one pick. It’s definitely nothing that I’m ever wanting to come close to again — the consideration of picking number one.”

Loose Ends

J.B. Wendelken (4–3) earned the win, while Carlos Estevez (3–5) took the loss, both in relief. The Rockies ended the season 74–87, good enough for fourth in the NL West. VanMeter summed up the end of the season well. He was describing what it meant for him, personally, following what all he had fought through in 2021. But it fit well with what the entire team has gone through. “I don’t think there’s any better way to end it. There was — I hit a few balls hard today and then had a walk off home run. (It was the) first of my career in the big leagues, and on a 98 mile an hour fastball….

“It feels pretty good. There were a bunch of trials and tribulations this year, but those are the moments you play for. Those moments (are) why you show up to the yard and why you put all the work in. I’m pretty excited that I got to experience that that moment.”

Main Photo:
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Players/managers mentioned:

Josh VanMeter, Sam Hilliard, Colton Welker, Yonathan Daza, Dom Nuñez, Raimel Tapia, Henry Ramos, Garrett Hampson, Daniel Bard, Brendan Rodgers, Jake McCarthy, Geraldo Perdomo, Torey Lovullo, David Peralta, Josh Rojas, Kole Calhoun, Christian Walker, Tyler Kinley, J.B. Wendelken, Ketel Marte, Carlos Estevez


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