ATLANTA (AP) — Austin Riley keeps coming up with one clutch hit after another on baseball’s biggest stage.
The Braves are now up 2-1 in the series, two wins away from their first championship since 1995.
Their burly third baseman is a huge reason why.
After a breakout year in 2021 that sparks chants of “MVP! MVP! MVP!” from Atlanta fans when he comes to the plate, Riley has carried his regular-season success right to the postseason.
Riley provided the only offense that would be needed on a night when the Braves pitchers did not allow a hit until the eighth inning.
With one out and two runners aboard, Riley yanked one down the third-base line for a double that sent Eddie Rosario scooting home.
Travis d'Arnaud provided some insurance with a mammoth homer over the center-field wall in the eighth, but it's impossible to ignore Riley's impact on the Atlanta lineup.
During the NL Division Series against the Milwaukee Brewers, Riley went 5 of 15 with a homer to help the Braves advance to face the 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers, the reigning champs and the team that sent Atlanta packing in 2020.
Not this time.
Not with Riley in the middle of things.
He won Game 1 with a walk-off hit in the ninth. In the Game 6 clincher, Riley put the Braves ahead with a two-out RBI double in the first, yet another clutch hit that was overshadowed by Rosario’s MVP-winning performance.
Riley is at it again in the World Series.
In Game 1 at Houston, he doubled in a run in the first inning to help spark a 6-2 victory.
On Friday, he jumped on a cutter from rookie Luis Garcia, smoking it just inside the third-base bag — a huge blow in the first nail-biting game of the Series.
The big hits just keep on coming for the 24-year-old cleanup hitter.
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Paul Newberry, The Associated Press