Rhys Hoskins turns boos into thunderous cheers with clutch hit against Braves in NLDS – NBC Sports

Rhys Hoskins turns boos into thunderous cheers with clutch hit against Braves in NLDS - NBC Sports

When Rhys Hoskins signed with the Phillies as a fifth-round draft pick out of Sacramento State University in the summer of 2014, memories of the team’s championship run from 2007 to 2011 were still fresh in the mind.

October wins.

The sold out crowds.

The big launch presentations.

The dramatic home runs.

Hoskins heard about it all.

“Seeing pictures, hearing stories, being around guys who were there, that kind of thing,” he said.

It took a while, but Hoskins finally experienced all of the above on Friday afternoon.

Like those old Phillies teams of Jimmy, Chase, Ryan, Cole, Chooch and Big Chuck, he felt the euphoria of a big October win.

He heard the noise and felt the stadium shake.

He saw his friend, Aaron Nola, a product of the same draft, throw an October gem.

And he felt the joy of hitting a huge postseason home run, just like the guy who threw out the ceremonial first pitch, a guy named Shane Victorino, once did.

The Phillies are one win away from advancing to the National League Championship Series. They got there with an electrifying 9-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves in Game 3 of the NL Division Series at Citizens Bank Park.

They got there because Nola continued its fresh glow.

They got there because Rhys Hoskins was down — very down — but not out.

He fielded a ball at first base and that led to a 3-0 loss in Game 2 in Atlanta on Wednesday night.

Back at home for Game 3 Friday, Hoskins was reminded of his misplay in pre-game introductions. The mouths were remarkable. And they got louder after he struck out in the first inning to drop to 1 for 19 in four postseason games.

In the third inning, Hoskins turned the boos into an eruption of joy from the sellout crowd of 45,528. He jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Braves starter Spencer Strider and sent it into the left-field seats for a three-run home run to put the Phillies up 4-0.

Citizens Bank Park shook just as Hoskins heard it did back in the glory days.

“God, it was loud,” he said after the game.

The roar of the crowd was burned into Hoskins’ eardrums, but it took a few innings for him to realize how he scored his home run, which was preceded by some very good at-bats from Brandon Marsh (four-pitch walk), Jean Segura (eight-pitch strikeout) and Bryson Stott (a game-tying RBI double).

The Braves walked Kyle Schwarber intentionally to set up a potential double play and get to Hoskins, who took it just a little bit personally.

“Of course,” he said. “I’m human. I’m a competitor. They obviously tell me something right before I even step in the box. So, I’m ready to compete. And I think when you light a little fire under somebody they tend to hone in and focus a little more and I just didn’t miss.”

As the ball sailed out of the park at 107 mph, Hoskins raised his arms and jabbed his bat fiercely at the ground. He yelled to the dugout and trotted around the bases as if on air.

When he crossed home plate, he celebrated with JT Realmuto and then with Bryce Harper, who told him, “We’re not losing. We’re not losing.” Harper then went up and hit his own home run to make it 6-0.

Thank goodness iPads are allowed in dugouts now because Hoskins didn’t remember his hella bat spike until Kyle Schwarber showed him a few innings later.

“That’s what I did?!” an incredulous Hoskins said.

Yes, that’s what you did.

“Fix your divot,” Garrett Stubbs joked with Hoskins after the game.

“They’re still digging out the bat,” Matt Vierling said.

Hoskins’ emotional reaction was complete catharsis. The 1 for 19. The botched play in Game 3. The boos during introductions. The boos after the first-inning strikeout.

“I had a good view for it,” said Realmuto, who was in the on-deck circle for the homer. “That was about as excited as I’ve ever been on a baseball field. Watching his reaction, there’s definitely some pent-up frustration in that swing and that reaction. It was just a blast. That was a lot of fun.

“It was a tough play the other day. The fans let him hear it during introductions, after his first strikeout of the day. As much as we try not to pay attention to those things, it’s impossible not to. And he responded the same way we expect him to. He came huge for us. He won the ballgame for us with that swing.

“It blew the roof off our park, metaphorically. It was unbelievable. The stadium went wild. That’s what he’s here to do. He’s our guy who comes up big in places like that and he did tonight.”

Hoskins had calmed down by the time he appeared in the postgame interview room. There was no moaning about the mouths. He can take it. Earlier in the week, he talked about what it’s like to play in Philadelphia, how they’ll tell you how you play with their reaction, how you have to have thick skin to make it in what he called an “honest market.” “

Nola, who himself has felt the fans’ honest criticism at times, revealed the key to Hoskins’ ability to rebound.

“He just keeps pushing,” Nola said. “He never hangs his head. I’ve been with him long enough. I never see him hang his head, no matter what the score is. Or if he made a mistake on first base, it doesn’t matter.

“He’s always pushing forward, always has that confidence that he’s going to make the next play, get the next hit. It doesn’t really surprise me what he did tonight.”

In reflecting on his performance, Hoskins said, “It’s crazy how one swing of the bat can change things, for better or for worse.”

This was definitely for the good. The Phillies are one win away from their first NLCS since the glory days of 2010.

Everything came back on Friday. The October victory. The excellent launch performance. The big home run. The wild crowd.

“The crowd was unbelievable,” Harper said. “Absolutely insane. Electric. Nothing I could have ever dreamed of. It was, ‘Oh.’ I shudder to think about it because that was incredibly cool.

“I hope it will be like this for two more weeks.”

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