One swing of the bat cemented his legacy in Joliet…
Some moments live forever in the hearts and minds of baseball fans.
For Joliet baseball fans, Brandon Peters’ walk-off home run in game three of the Frontier League Championship Series is one of those moments.
It also represented the pinnacle of Peters’ career. The Slammers acquired him from the Gateway Grizzlies on August 12 and things did not start so smoothly. During batting practice a ball deflected off another player’s glove and hit Peters in the face.
“It was kind of one of those surreal moments,” Peters said. “I didn’t even have a chance to meet half the guys yet because I was kind of running around; getting my equipment and everyone was already on the field about to take batting practice. So Bart told me to go out and meet a couple guys. I was going to hit in the last group that day and just get comfortable out there. I literally headed out to right field and within minutes it happened. It was kind of a fluke accident.”
Peters went to the hospital and got stitches. He returned in the sixth inning and the Slammers threw him right in the fire as he went up to the plate in the eighth inning as a pinch hitter.
Peters was promptly hit by the pitch.
“It was coming towards my face but I got hit in the elbow,” Peters said. “I ended up scoring a run on (David) Fox’s base hit and we ended up winning that game so that was cool. But it was a bit of a coincidence that the ball started heading towards my face again.”
Peters had suffered numerous injuries throughout his career and 2011 was no different as he battled through a wrist injury the entire season. Consequently his numbers were down but in the end it didn’t matter: one at bat cemented his legacy in Joliet.
Game Three of the Frontier League Championship Series was unbelievably intense. With the best-of-five series knotted at one, this game would put one team on the brink of elimination. Back-and-forth the teams battled. River City took the lead. Then Joliet tied it. Joliet took the lead. Then River City tied it. River City took the lead again and Joliet tied it again in the eighth inning thanks to an Erik Lis RBI single.
Peters entered the game as a defensive replacement in the eighth.
“I was kind of watching (River City closer Derrick) Miramontes warm up in the bullpen throughout that inning,” Peters said. “I’d faced that guy a lot of times because they were in our division when I played in Gateway so he’d been on River City for a couple years. I’d seen him a bunch of times and I knew he was going to try to get ahead especially knowing I hadn’t had an at bat the whole night.”
With the game tied, Peters stepped to the plate to lead-off the bottom of the ninth against Miramontes. His hunch was correct; Miramontes went after him and Peters drove the first pitch he saw over the right field wall. The smash sent the crowd of more than 2000 fans into a frenzy.
“One of the highlights of it for myself honestly was there was about six or seven guys on River City who were teammates of mine in years past on Gateway,” Peters said. “They had a lot of guys who had played for Gateway. So that really made it pretty cool for myself just to have a lot of those guys on the field as we beat them. It was pretty fun man. What a way to go out.”
Peters had never hit a walk-off home run in his career. In fact, he can’t remember even being on a team that was on the winning side of a walk-off hit.
After the season concluded with the Slammers as the Frontier League champions, Peters decided to retire.
“My body hasn’t been able to hold up for a full season the past two years and it was wearing me out mentally and physically,” Peters said. “I live in San Diego now so I can’t complain. I work for a swimming pool contractor and do tile work. I’m finishing school and looking to take life in a new direction.”
Peters credits the coaching staff with making his final professional baseball season one to remember forever.
“Coming there I’d made a name for myself in the league a little bit over the years but I wasn’t having the best season,” Peters said. “The coaching staff really gave me the confidence that they wanted me there and they felt they had the team to win. That was the message they relayed to me as I walked in the first day. They really were the leaders of that team. Everyone played the way they showed up to the field every day. They were so consistent and that’s why we won it man.”
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