The Dodgers were already up by a run Friday, and here came A.J. Ellis running to third on pinch-hitter Justin Turner’s pinch-hit single.
Third base coach Lorenzo Bundy was keenly aware Ellis is not the most fleet of runners under normal situations, and this was his first game back after missing 18 with a sprained ankle.
So Bundy did as you would expect and held up his hands in the stop sign as Turner’s hit dropped into right-center field. Only there was one problem.
“I couldn’t stop coming around third,” Ellis said. “I saw Lo throw up the stop sign for me -- and the brief thought of me trying to plant, stop and retreat back to third -- I figured I’d take my chances.”
Ellis rounded third and steamed -- or maybe it was ambled -- toward the plate. Fortunately for Ellis, the throw from Gerardo Para -- perhaps suffering from shock that Ellis would even attempt to score -- was off line.
After a slide that won’t be appearing soon in any Little League training videos, Ellis scored what would prove to be the winning run. So naturally, I asked Ellis if he’d run through many stop signs in his career.
“I ran through one when I was 16 years old, right when I got my license,” he said. “That was bad. I got grounded for a week. My mom was mad.
“But other than that, [it] usually turns out bad for me on the baseball field.”
Ellis had also been on first in the sixth inning when Chone Figgins worked a walk and suddenly a buzz rippled through the crowd and then turned into loud cheers. The Kings had just won in overtime to capture the Stanley Cup.
“They kept flashing the score on the board, so we knew they were in overtime,” Ellis said. “As soon as the crowd erupted like that, we knew they weren’t getting fired up for a Chone Figgins at-bat in the seventh inning.”
For Ellis, it brought back a quick memory.
“For me it was really similar to when in the Freeway Series, I was hitting and the crowd started going nuts,” he said. “And that’s when the earthquake happened.”