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The Runnin' Of the Bulldogs

So I got sucked in to watching a chunk of this major upset in college basketball last night, in which Gardner-Webb shocked Kentucky.

Turns out that Gardner-Webb was named after the former governor of North Carolina and his wife, which is funny, because I thought it was dubbed in that manner in honor of a pair of former Mets walk-off winners.

We've written about Rob Gardner previously (Wes Gardner never got a walk-off win for the Mets) and I think he could live up to the Gardner-Webb nickname (see blog title) but I don't believe we've ever referenced former Met Hank Webb.

Webb (who looked a little like Calvin Schiraldi) won 7 games in his big league career and though he had cameo appearances with the Mets in 1972, 1973, 1974 (his miscue cost the Mets in a 25-inning loss to the Cardinals),and 1976, his only victories came with the 1975 Mets.

The first of those came as the result of some walk-off perseverance. Webb had pitched three innings of relief in a 7-3 loss to the Braves on June 7, so it was figured that his services wouldn't be needed the next day. It turned out that they were.

The Mets/Braves clash the next day at Shea was a rather nondescript match between ex-Met Buzz Capra and Tom Hall. It was a particularly good day for someone who had a good day recently, new Dodgers manager Joe Torre. The Mets third baseman had four hits and three RBI that day and they were needed for this contest to last the 14 innings that it did. The length of the game turned out to be one number fewer than the tally of consecutive games in which Torre had gotten a hit (he had a 15-game hit streak).

Torre would play a key role in the victory, albeit in a roundabout manner, as in that final frame, his bid for a fifth hit was unsuccessful, but his fly ball to centerfield was muffed by Cito Gaston, for a two-base error. That put runners on second and third with nobody out for Rusty Staub, who was walked intentionally. The next batter Gene Clines, worked a 1-1 count before Atlanta reliever Elias Sosa threw one high and wild, bringing home Felix Millan with the winning run.

Webb got the win for working through the top of the 14th unscathed, surviving a one-out walk to do so. The New York Times, our primary source for this contest, had a nifty quote from Webb afterwards.

"When I was sitting in the bullpen with (George) Stone during those extra innings, I told him the game was made to order for me to win. Of course, I was joking."

So was anyone, who thought before yesterday that Gardner-Webb had any chance against Kentucky.

True Metner Webbs know...On May 31, 2006, the Mets won 1-0 in 13 innings over the Diamondbacks via walk-off in a game started by Brandon WEBB, which seems appropriate to mention, as he previously attended the University of Kentucky.


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