Even as seven-run ninth-inning comebacks go, this one was special. This one had a full-fledged comeback countdown happening on the radio.
On May 20, 2010, the Braves trailed the Reds 9-3, heading into the bottom of the ninth at Turner Field, but rallied for an unforgettable 10-9 victory.
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Braves radio play-by-play man Jim Powell seemed to know something special was about to happen. He told Sporting News he didn’t have a premonition, but for whatever reason, Powell and color man Mark Lemke took a unique approach to calling that frame.
“I can assure you, I don’t normally do this, but we were down so many runs, we started actually counting down how far into the lineup the Braves would have to get before they could get the tying or winning run up to the plate,” Powell said. “We’re not forecasting that it’s going to happen, but we’re just like, you know, ‘Hey, if you want to believe, if you want to hang on here and believe in the Braves, here’s what it would take.'”
The first four Atlanta hitters of the inning singled – the fourth of those, by Nate McLouth, chased home Troy Glaus and Eric Hinske – as Powell’s countdown rolled on, batter by batter. All four of those singles came off Cincinnati reliever Mike Lincoln, who had retired six Braves in a row heading into the ninth.
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Nick Massett entered for the Reds, but he walked David Ross and Martin Prado reached on an error, scoring Yunel Escobar. The score was now 9-6, and Powell’s countdown reached zero. With the bases loaded, Jason Heyward suddenly represented the winning run, but he struck out against lefty specialist Arthur Rhodes. Up stepped Brooks Conrad, who had only three home runs in his big-league career, including one the previous night.
Powell and Lemke sat there in the radio booth with huge smiles on their faces as they watched the inning play out.
“Sure enough, we go player by player by player and then Brooks Conrad’s up there and he hits the grand slam to win the game, and yet he thinks he’s out because he thinks it was caught and he almost ran out of the baseline,” Powell said, laughing years later as he retold the story.
Here is Powell’s call of the grand slam.
“I can’t believe it!” Powell says on the broadcast after Conrad jumps on home plate, which prompts a perfect response from Lemke: “What do you mean? You wrote the script!”
It was an unforgettable moment for Braves fans, the ones watching on TV or in person, and especially for those who were listening on the radio.
“That was, I mean, I’ll never forget that just because normally we don’t sit there and project, you know, seven batters ahead and what’s going to happen,” Powell said. “It just happened that we did it and the Braves came through. So that’s one of my favorites of all time.”