Twenty-two years ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks did something amazing. They scored twice in the bottom of the ninth inning against Mariano Rivera and beat the mighty New York Yankees in Game 7 of the World Series. On Tuesday night, the D’backs did something amazing again. They beat mighty Philadelphia — at Citizens Bank Park, for the second straight night — to win Game 7 of the National League Championship Series and reach the second Fall Classic in their 26-year history. The franchise was just four years old when the ’01 team, which included former Ole Miss star David Dellucci, won the championship. That club had been largely constructed by Mississippi State alum Buck Showalter, who was fired as manager after the 2000 season reportedly because of a dispute with ownership. Originally drafted by Baltimore, Dellucci was plucked by Arizona (and Showalter) in the expansion draft in the fall of 1997. He hit .260 with a league-best 12 triples in 1998 and was still a reserve outfielder on the 2001 club. He played in two World Series games, including a pinch-running appearance in the fateful ninth inning of Game 7; he was erased on a fielder’s choice for the first out. Interestingly enough, Dellucci also played for Texas, which will face the D’backs in the Fall Classic that begins Friday in Arlington. Showalter was manager of the Rangers when Dellucci was with the team (2004-05).
There were a couple of rare occurrences in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. Oakland won a game, just its 13th of the season, and Brent Rooker hit a home run, ending his personal 20-game drought. Former Mississippi State star Rooker, one of the hottest players on the planet in April when he blasted nine home runs, has cooled off of late. He has three homers since the calendar flipped to May, and he hit .198 for the month after finishing April with a .353 average for the season. (Note: He was hitting .333 on May 5 when he went on the MLB Central show to talk hitting with Mark DeRosa.) On the positive side, Rooker has hit safely in three of four games this month and is sitting at .261 with 34 RBIs on the year. The awful A’s, now 13-50, hit four homers all told in their 11-2 win at PNC Park. … Across the Keystone State in Philadelphia, the best display of power might have come in a pregame exhibition by a football player. Before the Phillies put up three hits to beat Detroit 1-0 at Citizens Bank Park, Eagles All-Pro receiver A.J. Brown, the ex-Ole Miss football star, took batting practice and impressed onlookers with a smooth, powerful swing. Brown, a two-sport standout at Starkville High, is the rare prep player to participate in both the Under Armour Football and Baseball All-America Games. He was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 19th round out of high school in 2016 and signed a pro contract. He worked out for the Padres in extended spring training several times while at Ole Miss but never actually played a pro game. Currently listed at 6 feet 1, 226 pounds, the 25-year-old Brown has teased the idea recently that he might give baseball another shot.