Former Trojan Aaron Boone Sends Yankees To The World Series

Oct 17, 2003

AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK - Move over Bucky Dent. Aaron Boone is the latest unlikelyhero in baseball's biggest rivalry.

Boone, benched before Game 7 of the AL championship series Thursday night,homered in the 11th inning to give New York a thrilling 6-5 victory over theBoston Red Sox and send the Yankees to yet another World Series.

After winning their 39th AL pennant and fifth in six years, the Yankees willmeet the Florida Marlins in the World Series beginning Saturday night.

But they might never have made it if not for a remarkable rally againstPedro Martinez and one big swing from Boone, acquired at the trade deadlinefrom Cincinnati.

An NL All-Star in July, he struggled at the plate for most of two monthswith the Yankees - and into the playoffs as well.

The third baseman was hitting just .161 with one RBI in the postseason.Manager Joe Torre sat him down for the biggest game of the year in favor ofEnrique Wilson, who is 10-for-20 lifetime in the regular season againstMartinez, including 7-for-8 this year.

But Boone got in the game as a pinch-runner when the Yankees rallied in theeighth, and he sent Boston home when he came to the plate for the first time inthe 11th.

Boone hit Tim Wakefield's first pitch over the left-field fence, sending56,279 delirious fans into a frenzy at Yankee Stadium. He was mobbed at homeplate by his teammates.

'Wow. I can't even talk. ... It's unbelievable,' Boone said. 'So manyheroes today. Unbelievable, this is awesome. Like Derek (Jeter) told me, theghosts will show up eventually. You knew anything was possible. It didn't lookgood there for a minute.'

It was a moment reminiscent of Chris Chambliss' game-winning home runagainst Kansas City to win the 1976 pennant for the Yankees.

And, of course, Dent, who hit a stunning three-run homer at Fenway Park tohelp the Yankees win a one-game playoff for the 1978 AL East title.

The Red Sox roughed up Roger Clemens, building a seemingly safe 4-0 lead forMartinez.

But these Yankees, with all their postseason poise, just wouldn't quit.

The slumping Jason Giambi, dropped to seventh in the lineup for the firsttime since 1999, homered twice off Martinez to cut it to 4-2.

New York nemesis David Ortiz connected against David Wells to make it 5-2,but the Yankees weren't finished.

Jeter sparked yet another October rally, hitting a one-out double to rightoff Martinez in the eighth. Bernie Williams followed with an RBI single, andthe fans started buzzing with excitement.

Hideki Matsui's double left runners at second and third, prompting a visitto the mound by Boston manager Grady Little. But Martinez stayed in the game,and Jorge Posada blooped a two-run double to shallow center, tying it at 5.

ALCS MVP Mariano Rivera pitched three innings for the first time since 1996,keeping Boston scoreless and leaving the game tied for Boone.

He certainly delivered.

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