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Oberg Makes a Long Night Well Worth It

October 4, 2018

Rockies catcher Tony Wolters, front, and relief pitcher Scott Oberg celebrate their win in the NL League wild-card playoff game. AP PHOTO

Ron Drouin knows he’s in the minority around here.

But, sorry Red Sox fans, the Tewksbury High athletic director is rooting for the Colorado Rockies to win the World Series. Drouin joined fans from the country who watched as the Rockies edged the host Chicago Cubs, 2-1, in a 13-inning National League wild-card game Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.

Oberg was on the mound when Colorado eliminated the Cubs, silencing the Wrigley Field crowd when he struck out Albert Almora Jr., swinging on a slider, ending the 4- hour, 55- minute marathon. It was the longest win- or- go- home game in Major League history.

“I was jumping up and down on my couch,” said Drouin, who coached Oberg at Tewksbury High School (Class of 2008). “He’s an easy guy to root for.”

Oberg wasn’t just the winning pitcher in the instant classic. Oberg, who went 8-1 during the regular season out of the bullpen for Colorado, struck out all four batters he faced.

He threw 20 pitches, 12 for strikes. He entered the game with two outs in the bottom of the 12th inning. Staring him down 60 feet, six inches away was former NL MVP Kris Bryant. Oberg threw six pitches to the dangerous Bryant, all sliders. On the final one, an 89-mph pitch, Oberg got Bryant looking, ending the inning and sending the game to the 13th. In the top of the 13th, Colorado broke the 1-1 tie when Tony Wolters singled in Trevor Story. If the Rockies could hold off the Cubs in the bottom half, they would advance in the NL playoffs and send Chicago home. Cubs fans tried to rattle Oberg. They failed.

Facing Terrance Gore, Oberg fired a 97- mph fourseam fastball, his fastest pitch of the night. He struck out a swinging Gore. One down. Next up: Javier Baez, a power-hitting shortstop who hit 34 home runs and drove in 111 runs during the regular season. Baez swung and missed for strike 3.

Almora, who was 2-for-4 in the game at the time, was Chicago’s final hope. Oberg easily fanned him on three pitches with a 96-mph fastball, an 87mph slider and another slider which broke off the plate, prompting a wild celebration as Oberg was mobbed by teammates.

“You’re always wondering, ‘How’s this going to end?’,” said Oberg after the game in the joyous Rockies locker room. “But our guys fought all night and to be able to get that last out there was great.”

“If you look at the last two or three months, you could make a case that he’s as lights-out as anyone in the Major Leagues,” Drouin said. “Man, it’s awesome,” Drouin added. “I’m happy for him. I’m in the minor-ity, but I’m rooting for the Rockies. Sorry, Red Sox.”

Drouin went to work Wednesday morning on little sleep. He’s prepared to do it again as the Rockies prepare to take on the Milwaukee Brewers.

Follow Barry Scanlon on Twitter @BarryScanlonSun

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