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25-year Marliniversary: Sheffield’s walk-off blast completes sweep of first-place Orioles

A Marlins memory from this day in 1997.

BBN-ORIOLES-MARLINS-VICTORY Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP via Getty Images

For the Florida Marlins, the 1997 season was full of thrilling finishes and late-game drama.

The Marlins ultimately topped the American League champion Cleveland Indians in walk-off fashion to win Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. On this day 25 years ago, the Marlins completed the three-game sweep of the American League team that finished with the best record in walk-off fashion.

After rallying from three runs down, Gary Sheffield’s ninth-inning blast lifted Florida to a 7-6 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. The Marlins opened the series with a 10-4 victory before knocking the Orioles on a walk-off single from Edgar Renteria in the 10th inning to take the second game of the series. They arrived at Pro Player Stadium on Sept. 3, 1997, looking for the sweep.

Jay Powell worked a perfect top of the ninth to get the Marlins to the bottom of the inning tied at 6-6 in the series finale. Looking to force extra innings, the Orioles turned to right-hander Shawn Boskie.

Boskie opened the inning by getting Edgar Renteria to ground out. Things looked good as Boskie was able to get ahead of Sheffield in the count, 1-2.

His next pitch got too much of the plate.

On a fastball from Boskie, Sheffield hammered it well over the tall scoreboard in left field for a no-doubt walk-off home run. The blast gave Florida its sixth straight win and eighth in nine games as the Marlins were a season-high 28 games over .500 at 83-55.

The Marlins started strong with two runs in the first inning on RBI singles from Bobby Bonilla and Darren Daulton. The Orioles finally got the bats going with three runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth.

In the fourth, Mike Bordick’s two-run single was followed by an RBI single from Jeffrey Hammonds. After the Marlins drew even on an RBI single from Devon White in the bottom of the fourth, Baltimore answered with a three-run home run from Cal Ripken Jr. in the fifth.

Down 6-3, the Marlins drew even with three runs in the sixth. Craig Counsell tripled home two before scoring the tying run on a single from Jim Eisenreich. The bullpens traded zeroes in the seventh and eighth innings.

Sheffield finished with three hits while White, Daulton and Counsell each had two in the victory. Aaron Ledesma had two hits for Baltimore in the loss.

For Sheffield, the 1997 season would be a largely disappointing one. After hitting .314 with 42 home runs and 120 RBIs in 1996, Sheffield hit just .250 with 21 homers and 71 RBIs in 1997. His only walk-off blast that season—and the first of his career—came on this day a quarter-century ago.