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LaRoche calm under pressure10/08/2004 8:25 PM ET
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Maybe if the Braves advance to the World Series, Adam LaRoche will finally realize the significance of the event in which he's participating. But for now, the rookie first baseman is going to continue to display the cool of a seasoned veteran.
When asked whether his one-out, game-tying double against the usually dominant Brad Lidge in the eighth inning of Thursday's 11-inning victory over the Astros was the biggest hit of his life, the 24-year-old LaRoche said, "No, I hit a grand slam to win a game in Little League once."
While there was seemingly some humor in the response, it was filled more with the innocence of a rookie first baseman who has aspirations of doing something more than simply providing a game-tying double off of a dominant closer in Game 2 of the National League Division Series.
"When the season's over, I'll look back at some of the hits, home runs and whatever. Until then I just want to look straight ahead," LaRoche said. "It was big then. We needed it. But we obviously have a ways to go here."
If the Braves are going to continue their march toward the World Series, they're going to need LaRoche to continue the production he's displayed over the past month. He recorded three hits in Thursday's crucial victory and in his final 28 regular-season games, he hit .345 (30-for-87) with 11 doubles and five homers.
"I'm feeling comfortable," LaRoche said. "That at-bat [against Lidge], he just kept throwing sliders, and I got a good idea of what he was doing."
LaRoche's understanding of big-league pitching comes both with the experience he's gained during his rookie season and with the knowledge he gained while being raised as the son of a Major League pitcher.
Dave LaRoche, who made 647 appearances for five different organizations during his big-league career, was in Atlanta to see his son get his first taste of the postseason.
"It was awesome having him there," the younger LaRoche said. "I wish my mom could have been here. He's seen a lot of ballgames and I think he still gets excited seeing his kids play. I love playing in front of him. I hope he can see me play many more games."
With his key eighth-inning double against Lidge, LaRoche helped the Braves gain new life and improved the chances that his father, and possibly his mother this time, can come back to Atlanta and experience some more postseason baseball.
While Rafael Furcal's walk-off homer provided the decisive moment in the Game 2 victory, LaRoche's eighth-inning at-bat helped the Braves get the momentum-shifting win that evened this series and erased the frustrations they had felt just 24 hours earlier after their Game 1 loss.
"I'd have to say that last night, my postseason experience went from being terrible to being a blast," LaRoche said.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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