September 25, 1971: Aspromonte's Last Hit Beats Bucs in 15th

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Date: September 25, 1971
Mets starter: Jon Matlack
Mets: 2
Pirates: 1
Winning pitcher: Danny Frisella
Key player(s): Bob Aspromonte, Cleon Jones
Key play: Jones’ sacrifice fly, Aspromonte’s single

The Mets faced the Pirates on a Saturday afternoon at Shea Stadium. The teams played the second game of a series on the final weekend of the season. In the 15th inning, Bob Aspromonte drove in the winning run with his final major league hit to give the Mets a 2-1 triumph over Pittsburgh.

The Bucs failed to score after loading the bases against Mets’ starter Jon Matlack in the top of the first. Pittsburgh’s Bob Johnson pitched a scoreless bottom half and neither team scored in the second inning. In the third, Matlack shut down the Pirates and Bud Harrelson doubled to lead off the bottom half. Harrelson moved to third base on Leroy Stanton’s ground out to Johnson. Cleon Jones followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Harrelson for a 1-0 Mets lead. Donn Clendenon then popped out to shortstop Gene Alley to end the inning.

A triple by Carl Taylor opened the top of the fourth. Matlack threw a wild pitch that brought home Taylor to tie the game. Manny Sanguillen singled to left field and Jose Pagan hit a ground ball to shortstop Harrelson for a double play. Alley was called out on strikes for the third out. Johnson set down the Mets 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning. From the fifth to the eighth, Matlack held the Pirates without a run or a hit while Johnson allowed only a sixth-inning single to Jones. Mets’ reliever Tug McGraw hurled a scoreless top of the ninth. With two outs in the bottom half, Clendenon drew a walk and advanced to third base on a single by Tommie Agee. Johnson then retired Wayne Garrett on a fly ball to center fielder Gene Clines to send the game onward.

McGraw limited the Bucs to a single by Willie Stargell in pitching scoreless 10th and 11th innings. Pittsburgh’s Bob Veale responded with perfect bottom halves. Tug and Pirates’ reliever John Lamb each pitched one-hit shutout ball over the 12th and 13th innings. In the top of the 14th, reliever Danny Frisella set down the Bucs in order. The Mets failed to score against Lamb in the bottom half and the Pirates had runners at first and second with one out in the top of the 15th. Frisella then got Taylor to hit a grounder to Harrelson for an inning-ending double play.

Tim Foli singled off Pittsburgh’s Ramon Hernandez to start the bottom of the 15th. Frisella’s sacrifice bunt moved Foli to second and Harrelson flied out to Clines. Stanton was given an intentional walk and Aspromonte came up to pinch-hit for Dave Marshall. Bob delivered a single to center field that plated Foli and ended the game. The Mets had an extra-inning victory on Aspromonte’s final hit of his 13-season major league career.