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Worst All-Time Twins Tournament, Nolasco Round, Day 4: It’s a Smalley world after all

Apologies for the earworm.

Minnesota Twins
Take away the cage and the coach, and you’ve got a pretty good idea what went down.
Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images

Selig Sectional

(5) 1981 Twins 10
(9) 1956 Senators 9
‘81 trails 3-1

Three outs from elimination, Roy Smalley saved the series.

Smalley’s ninth-inning two-run home run turned a 9-8 defeat into a 10-9 victory as ‘81 pushed the Selig Sectional to a fifth game.

‘56, trailing 8-6 in the bottom of the eighth, had taken the lead on Lou Berberet’s three-run double, unwittingly setting up Smalley’s heroics.

Before the late-inning chaos, there was early- and middle-inning chaos as ‘81 saw a 6-1 lead turn into a 6-6 tie. Having taken the lead on a Dave Engle three-run homer and extended it through the third and fourth innings, ‘56 used big hits of their own to tie the score, Herb Plews driving in three on a double in the fourth and Jose Valdivielso’s two-run single tying the game an inning later.

Both teams’ bats went quiet in the sixth before waking up for the final three innings. In the top of the seventh, Rob Wilfong doubled with one out before Smalley flied to center. Using the tried-and-true two-out rally technique, John Castino singled in Wilfong to give ‘81 the lead, and Mickey Hatcher rocked a double to bring in Casttino.

But the bottom of the eighth saw ‘56 copy their opponent’s strategy, racking up baserunners with two outs before bringing them home. With only a man on first when the second out was recorded, Jim Lemon and Clint Courtney singled before Berberet’s double cleared the loaded bags.

Unfortunately for ‘56, Bob Chakales walked Wilfong on four pitches to bring up Smalley, who got his bat on a 2-1 slider and summoned Game 5.

Manfred Sectional (played)

(6) 1948 Senators 3
(10) 1982 Twins 7
‘48 trails 3-1

Although ‘48 stayed in the game until the very end, ‘82’s hitters dangled the lead from the end of their bats, ever out of reach.

‘48 won the hit column 10-9, but ‘82 used key extra base hits to win by a 7-3 margin that sets them a win away from slipping out of the bracket.

The lead came early for ‘82, who leaded the bases on a single and two walks before John Castino brought all three men home with a double to deep center field.

Any efforts for ‘48 to come back were stifled by Frank Viola, who struck out seven while scattering six hits across six innings, walking one. Viola’s only run surrendered came in the fourth, when ‘48 put three singles together to bring a runner around the bags.

By the time Viola was relieved in the top of the seventh, ‘82 had extended the lead back to three runs on Kent Hrbek’s opposite-field solo dinger. But with Jack O’Connor on the mount ‘48’s offense woke up: Sherry Robertson and Len Okrie singled, Al Kozar’s sacrifice fly brought Robertson home, and Mickey Vernon doubled on a full count to score Okrie. O’Connor preserved the lead by inducing a groundout from Bud Stewart, but the game had reached new tensions with ‘82 only ahead by one.

The lead wasn’t one for long.

Ron Washington opened the seventh with a single, and pinch hitter Randy Bush doubled into the left field corner, bringing Washington home. One inning later, RBI singles by Randy Johnson and Gary Gaetti extended that lead to four runs, a lead ‘48 had been unable to touch all game.

They would not touch it in the ninth, as Paul Boris (who had recorded the final out of the eighth) retired ‘48 1-2-3 to give ‘82 a 3-1 series advantage.

Nolasco Round, Day 3 | Nolasco Round, Day 4 | Nolasco Round, Day 5