Photo provided by Point Park Athletic Department
DETROIT, Mich. - Point Park (Pa.) alum Don Kelly played the hero for the Detroit Tigers on Sunday as his game-ending sacrifice fly gave the Tigers a 5-4 win over the visiting Oakland Athletics in Game 2 of the American League Division Series in front of 40.684 fans at Comerica Park.
Kelly, from Mt. Lebanon, Pa., was an NAIA First Team All-American at Point Park, where he played from 1999-2001. He was drafted by the Tigers in the eighth round of the 2001 draft and has been in the big leagues with Detroit for nearly every game since 2010.
He was sent down to Triple-A Toledo -- the first time he had been in the minors since Aug. 2009 -- in Auust as part of roster moves that designated him for assignment. He was a September call-up for the Tigers this year and played well down the stretch to make the playoff roster.
Saturday was his chance to show that manager Jim Leyland -- who attended Kelly's induction to Point Park's Pioneer Athletic Hall of Fame in October 2010 -- made a good decision to keep Kelly on the postseason squad.
Kelly had entered the game as a pinch runner for designated hitter Delmon Young in the eighth, and he came home on a wild pitch to tie the game at 4-4.
An inning later, the Tigers' lineup came back to the No. 5 spot in the order, where Kelly was due up in place of Young. After Omar Infante and Miguel Cabrera singled with one out, cleanup hitter Prince Fielder was intentionally walked to load the bases. That brought up Kelly, who provided the game-winning run on his fly out.
Kelly is no stranger to postseason heroics. He hit a key home run in the 2011 ALDS Game 5 victory over the New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium.
Kelly made his Major League debut when he made the Opening Day roster of his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates in 2007. He made it back to the majors in Sept. 2009 after he was the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens' team MVP that season. He has made the Tigers Opening Day roster in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The Tigers lead the A's 2-0 and can clinch the series when it continues Tuesday, Oct. 9 with Game 3 in Oakland.