September 20, 1973: The "Ball on the Wall" Play

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Date: September 20, 1973
Mets starter: Jerry Koosman
Mets: 4
Pirates: 3
Winning pitcher: Ray Sadecki
Key player(s): Duffy Dyer, Ray Sadecki, Ron Hodges
Key play: Dyer’s 9th inning double, Jones’ & Garrett’s relay throws, Hodges’ single

The Mets were a game and a half behind the first-place Pirates when the teams faced each other on a Thursday night at Shea Stadium. It was an epic struggle that featured timely hits from two reserve catchers and an incredible play at the plate. When it was over, the Mets had a thrilling 4-3 win in thirteen innings.

Jerry Koosman and Pittsburgh’s Jim Rooker started the game with three scoreless innings. The Pirates got the first run when Bud Harrelson made an errant throw on Dal Maxvill’s ground ball that allowed Willie Stargell to score in the fourth. The Mets tied it in the sixth on Cleon Jones’ two-out single to score Wayne Garrett, but a home run by Richie Hebner in the seventh put Pittsburgh ahead, 2-1.

Jim Beauchamp started the bottom of the eighth inning with a pinch-hit single off Rooker. Garrett then sacrificed pinch-runner Ted Martinez to second base. Martinez scored the tying run when Pittsburgh’s Al Oliver made an error after Felix Millan’s single to center field.

The Pirates took a 3-2 lead on Dave Cash’s RBI single off reliever Harry Parker in the top of the ninth. The Mets tied it up when Duffy Dyer got a clutch pinch-hit double with two out to bring home Ken Boswell. The game was headed to extra innings.

Ray Sadecki started the tenth inning for the Mets. Ray pitched solidly through the twelfth, retiring all nine Pittsburgh hitters while striking out five. Meanwhile, Pirate relievers Jim McKee and Luke Walker kept the Mets scoreless.

The top of the thirteenth opened with Sadecki’s strikeout of Stargell. Richie Zisk followed with a single and Manny Sanguillen flied out to right field. Dave Augustine then hit a fly ball to deep left that hit the top of the bullpen gate. The ball bounced directly into Jones’ glove. Garrett (who was moved from third base to shortstop in the tenth) took Cleon’s throw and made one of his own to catcher Ron Hodges. Zisk, trying to score from first base, was tagged out by Hodges to end the inning.

Walker walked John Milner and Boswell to begin the last of the thirteenth. Reliever Dave Giusti came in and retired Don Hahn on an infield pop up. Hodges then delivered a single to left, scoring Milner with the winning run and putting the Mets only a half game from first place.

Notes

  • Beauchamp's single in the eighth was the last regular season appearance of his career.
  • Dyer's ninth inning RBI double came in his final appearance of the season. Duffy did not play in any of the Mets' post-season games.