Burk Goldthorn, who hit only two home runs in 286 regular season at bats, hit a 400-foot grand slam in the seventh inning to break a 4-4 tie and lead the Alexandria Dukes to an 8-5 victory and a three-game sweep over the Durham Bulls in the Carolina League championship series tonight.
Goldthorn, whose two-run homer was the game-winning hit in Game 2, drove a 1-0 fast ball from Bulls' ace reliever Tom Waddell high atop a roof over the right center field wall. Goldthorn, who was three for nine with two home runs and six RBI in the series, was named the most valuable player.
"It's the biggest hit I ever got in my life," said Goldthorn, a first year pro out of Texas. "I hit a homer to beat Miami in the college world series, but it was nothing like this, that's for sure."
With runners on second and third and one out, Durham elected to intentionally walk Nick Castaneda, hoping for a double play grounder from the slow-footed Goldthorn.
"I wasn't about to go 2-0 with the bases loaded," said Waddell (five wins, 11 saves, and 103 strikeouts in 74 2/3 regular season innings). "It was a low fast ball, he guessed right and was able to open up on his swing."
"I was just looking to hit a fly ball to the outfield for a run," Goldthorn said. "Waddell is a good control pitcher, so I knew he'd throw a strike. I was looking fast ball down, and that's what I got."
Goldthorn did his best Reggie Jackson imitation after the swing. He stood at home plate and admired his winning hit as the boisterous Durham crowd (3,318) became suddenly quiet.
Lee Marcheskie, who recorded a save in game one, earned the victory with four innings of relief. Marcheskie replaced Art Ray in the sixth when the Bulls tied the game, 4-4. He allowed two infield singles and a sacrifice fly in the inning, but was sharp the rest of the way, despite giving up a two-out solo homer to Bob Tumpane.
"I was only going to pitch that one inning because (Jeff) Zaske was ready in the bullpen," Marcheskie said. "But after the homer, 'Lip' (Dukes' Manager John Lipon) changed his mind and let me finish. I've pitched better, but we won and that's what counts."
For Durham, it was a bitter way to end the season, especially after an 8-1 victory over the Peninsula Pilots in the Southern Division playoff game. The Pilots had the best record during the regular season.
The series proved different. Bulls' Manager Bobby Dews summed it up simply:
"The best team won and that's all I have to say."