PITTSBURGH — Lengthy games don't bother Tony Sanchez. He played in the longest game in NCAA tournament history while at Boston College in 2009, the Eagles losing in 25 innings to Texas.
So it was no big deal when the Pittsburgh Pirates rookie catcher was called on to pinch-hit in the 16th inning Wednesday night.
"This was nothing compared to that," Sanchez said with a smile.
The difference between the two is, this time, in a game that took 5 hours, 55 minutes, Sanchez singled in the winning run to give the Pirates a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs — the longest game in Pittsburgh history by time.
Sanchez's hit came off Carlos Villanueva (0-2), ending the game just short of 1 a.m. and 6 minutes longer the Pirates 8-7, 18-inning victory over Houston on May 27, 2006, that took 5:49.
"The few fans who stayed were really loud and that got the adrenaline flowing," Sanchez said. "It was a great to be in a situation where I had the chance to win a game for the first time in my career. I was getting a little nervous when I stepped up to the plate then I realized all I had to do was put the ball in play and find a hole."
Villanueva also allowed Neil Walker's game-ending home run in the Pirates' 1-0 win Monday in the season opener.
The Cubs left 19 runners on Wednesday and have gone 1 for 27 with runners in scoring position in their first two games. Yet first-year manager Rick Renteria is remaining positive.
"We did everything we could possibly do," Renteria said. "The guys kept coming back and that's a good sign for all of us. As long as we keep going out there and playing the way we're playing right now, good things are bound to happen."