AT&T Park erupted into jubilation tonight as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Washington Nationals 3-2, advancing to the National League Championship Series where they will face the St. Louis Cardinals in a bid to make their third Word Series appearance in five years.
After relief pitcher Santiago Casilla got Wilson Ramos to ground out in the top of the ninth inning to end the game, Giants players and coaches ran onto the field, swarming the mound and triumphantly jumping up and down on the infield.
In the stands, fans roared their approval with thunderous cheering and applause, and San Francisco Giants players ran around the perimeter of the field, some giving high fives to supporters leaning down from the stands, savoring the victory.
Before the game, outfielder Hunter Pence spoke about the feeling in the Giants clubhouse during this round of the playoffs.
“There’s a lot of emotions, these games are extremely important, extremely intense, and it’s a strong desire to win,” Pence said.
“We’re coming out with everything we’ve got to win. Our goal is to win the World Series, and to do that we have to win this series.”
The atmosphere around the ballpark leading up to the game was festive, with streams of fans wearing team colors orange and black coming into the stadium, excitedly chattering and cheering, while in traffic on the Third Street bridge, people honked their car horns and others chanted “Let’s Go Giants!” in response.
AT&T Park was spruced up for the special occasion, with red, white and blue bunting wrapped around the stadium, and crisp postseason Major League Baseball logos painted on the field.
After San Francisco resident and singer Chris Isaak performed the national anthem, fans frantically waved their orange rally towels in anticipation of the first pitch, and kept the level of noise and excitement high throughout the remainder of the game.
Pitcher Ryan Vogelsong, who started the game for the Giants, summed up his feelings about the team and their resilience after the win.
“Nothing surprises me anymore about this team, especially at this time of year.”
Relief pitcher Sergio Romo echoed that sentiment.
“To be part of this is pretty special for me. The ups and downs of the season, they help us grow,” said Romo.
“Being able to handle certain things and in a sense being able to come through for my team today or when I’m called upon, it’s very fulfilling. It’s fun too!”
Longtime Giants fan Patrick Kutsch, 39, of Boulder Creek, was elated following the win and on-field celebrations.
“That was an amazing game and a hard earned win. It was fantastic to see the team and the fans pull together after such a tough season! This is one of the best feelings in the world!”
Game 1 of the NLCS takes place on Saturday in St. Louis, Missouri.
Sean McCourt, Bay City News