Rhys Hoskins turns boos into thunderous cheers with clutch home run against Braves in NLDS

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

October wins.

The sold-out crowds.

Great pitching performance.

Dramatic home runs.

Hoskins heard it all.

“Seeing pictures, hearing stories, rubbing shoulders with guys who were there, that kind of stuff,” he said.

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

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

He heard the noise and felt the stadium shake.

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

And he felt the joy of hitting a huge playoff 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 qualifying for the National League Championship Series. They got there with an electrifying 9-1 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 3 of the NL Division Series at Citizens Bank Park.

They got there because Nola continued its recent period of brilliance.

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

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

Returning home for Game 3 on Friday, Hoskins recalled his poor play during pregame introductions. The boos were noticeable. And they got stronger after he struck out in the first inning to go 1-for-19 in four postseason games.

In round three, Hoskins turned the boos into an eruption of cheer from the sold-out crowd of 45,528. He hopped on a fastball from the first pitch of Braves starter Spencer Strider and sent it into the left field seats for a three-run homer to give the Phillies a 4-0 lead.

Citizens Bank Park shook as Hoskins had heard in the glory days.

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

The roar of the crowd was etched into Hoskins’ eardrums, but it took him a few innings to realize how well he had punctuated 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 (full double RBI).

The Braves intentionally marketed Kyle Schwarber to set up a potential double play and get to Hoskins, who took it a little personal.

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

As the ball left the park at 107 mph, Hoskins raised his arms and slammed his bat fiercely into the ground. He yelled at the dugout and trotted around the bases as if on air.

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

Thank goodness iPads are now allowed in dugouts because Hoskins couldn’t remember his infernal bat peak until Kyle Schwarber showed him a few rounds later.

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

Yes, that’s what you did.

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

“They’re always out there digging up the bat,” Matt Vierling said.

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

“I had good eyesight,” said Realmuto, who was in the circle on deck for the circuit. “It was about as excited as ever on a baseball field. Looking at his reaction, there’s definitely some pent up frustration in that swing and that reaction. It was just an explosion. It was a lot of fun.

“It was a tough game the other day. The fans hinted at it during the introductions, after his first takedown of the day. Even though we try not to pay attention to that stuff, he’s impossible not to. And he responded like we expect him to. He came huge for us. He won the ball game for us with that swing.

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

Hoskins had calmed down by the time he appeared in the post-game interview room. There was no whining about the boos. 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 be tough to succeed in what he called “a fair market”. “

Nola, who himself felt honest criticism from fans once or twice, revealed the key to Hoskins’ ability to bounce back.

“He keeps pressing,” Nola said. “He never puts his head down. I’ve been with him for quite a while. I never see him put his head down no matter the outcome. Or if he made a mistake on first base, whatever.

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

Reflecting on his performance, Hoskins said, “It’s crazy how one batting can change things, for good or bad.”

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

It all came back on Friday. October Victory. The great pitching performance. The big home run. The wild crowd.

“The crowd was amazing,” Harper said. “Absolutely crazy. Electric. Nothing I could have ever dreamed of. It was, ‘Whoa.’ I get chills thinking about it because it was so incredibly cool.

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

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