After resting his ailing body for three games, the All-Star first baseman returned to the Orem Owlz lineup and hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Owlz fought back to edge past the Ogden Raptors at Brent Brown Ballpark on Tuesday evening.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” Baird said of his late-game heroics. “That was the first walk-off homer I’ve ever had.”
The victory was the first in a two-game home stand for the Owlz, who own the Pioneer League’s best record at 49-24. The Raptors, meanwhile, fall to 41-32.
But things got off to an inauspicious start for the hometown Owlz.
Ogden center fielder Lenell McGee started things off with a leadoff triple off the left field wall. The next batter, Austin Yount, who is the nephew of former Major League great Robin Yount, grounded into a fielder’s choice that brought McGee home to give the Raptors an early 1-0 lead.
In the top of the second inning, JT Wise hit a monster shot way over the left field fence to extend Ogden’s lead to 2-0.
The Raptors poured it on again in the next inning by scoring four runs, thanks in part to Pedro Guerrero’s two-run single, and Ogden took a 6-0 lead heading into the latter part of the third inning.
But Orem answered back by scoring four runs of its own in the third inning. After a wild pitch by Ogden pitcher Brett Wallach that scored Orem’s Kevin Ramos, third baseman Casey Haerther hit a line drive to the center field fence for a two-run double. Next up was Terrell Alliman, who knocked Haerther home, and the Owlz trailed by a score of 6-4.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Owlz catcher Carlos Ramirez singled on a line drive to score Ramos to bring Orem within one run.
The Owlz struck again in the seventh inning when Haerther singled on a ground ball that brought Ramirez home for the game-tying run and set the stage for Baird’s game-winner in the bottom of the ninth.
Baird finished the day going 2-for-3 with a double to go along with his homer, while Haerther went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs.
The comeback victory was something that has become typical of this Owlz squad this season.
“We’ve done that a lot this year,” Baird added. “We know if we’re down early, it’s not over because we can score runs in bunches.”
Jonathan Garrett picked up his fifth win for the Owlz, while Nick Gaudi suffered his fourth loss on the year for Ogden.