I can't believe what I saw happen. In between putting the title to this post and starting the first line- Placido Polanco just hit a solo home run off Heath Bell with two outs in the top of the eighth inning to tie the game at 2-2 to once again leave my hero Greg Maddux in search of victory #351.
Maddux gave up a lead off home run in the first inning to Curtis Granderson (9TH) before shuting down the Tigers. His line for the night thru seven innings- 1 earned run, 5 hits, 4 K's and 1 walk. Maddux had tossed 85 pitches for the night when skipper Bud Black went to the bench for a pinch hitter (Tony Clark). With his ERA lowered to 3.17 for the season, once again the win was left in the hands of the Friars bullpen.
Bell retired the first two Tigers easily before Polanco hit his 3RD Home Run of the season on a check swing. Are you kidding me? Greg will remain at 3W-5L-and the number of no decesions goes up to 8. Blown saves for the bullpen for Maddux alone is now at 6 for the season. Once again I will try and remember that there is no crying in baseball.....
Now lets get to the point I was getting ready to make before Polanco and Bell ruined my night.
Another great night of Valley League baseball all across the Valley. Mike checked in to let me know that his Waynesboro Generals fell to the Fauquier Gators by a final score of 4-3 or 5-3.The VBL hotline reports that Woodstock exploded for 11 runs in the River Bandits 11-2 victory over the visiting Staunton Braves. We hear that Covington defeated the red hot Winchester nine by a score of 6-2. No score avialable yet from Harrisonburg @ Haymarket. That leaves us Luray @ Front Royal.
Before I start on my recap on the game of the night for me, I have to tell you that while I typed the first portion of this that San Diego scored 4 runs in support of Bell- trust me I am not making this up. Bell will end up with a win for his efforts unless the SD pen can allow 4 ot 5 runs to score.
The game with the Wranglers and the Cardinals held more twist and turns than any roller coaster in the good ole USA. Luray majority owner Bill Turner made his managerial debut after 13 years of being affileated with the VBL. Turner (wearing #55) was pressed into service after skipper Mike Bocock took an un-scheduled fishing trip. Bill wasn't the only person trying to fill big shoes as Mr.Neal was covering for a vacationing Greg Brill on the Cards web cast. I was there in hopes of cheering on our "son" for the summer- Clay Kelly of Dallas Baptist University.
The game got interesting right from the start when Clay (batting 2ND) hit the second(fast ball) pitch he saw from Cards starter Tucker Pryor (North Florida) off the wall for a double. Clay came around to score and Luray was up 1-0. Front Royal answered with what I would call a typical Bob Brotherton run. Chad Cunningham (Austin Peay) singled of Drew Rucinski (Ohio Stae) to lead off the inning and Brotherton had #2 hitter Casey Albanese bunting. Albanese laid down a great bunt that Rucinski was forced to field himself and then race to the bag. Cunningham was running full speed and easily went from first to third on the play.
Jesse Henry scored Cunningham on a ground out to tie the score at 1-1 at the end of one inning but then a pitchers' duel broke out. Rucinski and Pryor matched zeros for a long time as the score remained tied at 1-1 until the top of the eighth inning ....
This just in - Final Score... San Diego 6 over Detroit 2 (Bell gets the win). The quote from Greg tomorrow will be something like... "It's not about me winning, it's about us winning."
Clay led off the top of the eighth inning with a single back through the box and Cory Johnson followed with a great sac bunt to move Clay to second base. On the first pitch to Jeff Jefferson Clay broke to third and slid in safely with a stolen base. Austin Markel hit a 2-1 pitch for an RBI single to give Luray a 2-1 lead. The lead would be short lived as Front Royal once again played agressive baseball to tie the score.
With one out Brotherton went to his bench and sent pinch hitter (local hero-Stephens City/Sheppard) Andrew McCormick to the plate. Turner countered by bringing Alex Wiesner (Wake Forrest) to pitch and McCormick won the battle with a single. Brotherton went to his bench again and sent pinch runner Rob DeVeney (Rhode Island) into the game. DeVeney quickly stole second base and came around to score on a single by Albanese off reliever Andrew Salgueiro to tie the game again at 2-2.
Matching runs in the first, matching zeros in the second thru seventh and again matching runs in the eighth sent the game into the top of the ninth. Jeremy Cruz (Stetson) was playing on an injured knee and tried to do his best Kirk Gibson impersonation. Cruz crushed a pitch to the deepest part of the park (just right of straight away center) but it hit the top of the netting so Cruz ended up with a Ground Rule double for his efforts. Frank Florio (Stetson) picked up his Hatters team mate by launching a 2-run home run to give the Wranglers a 4-2 lead.
Brian Dice followed with another shot that also caught the top of the net and went for a Ground Rule double and he came around to score on a RBI single by Adam McClain to push the lead to 5-2. A three run lead heading into the bottom of the ninth inning would be safe and clear of drama-right?
Another quick update- I just went to the Turks home page in search of a H'Burg @ Haymarket final and the sight had been updated...
Harrisonburg 7 12 2 (6-12)
Haymarket 9 10 2 (6-10)
Back to the bottom of the ninth inning- Linda and Rebecca had to leave to make it back in time for their slotted time at the Relay for Life but I felt a 3-run lead was pretty safe (unless the pen has SD on their hats..). Bennet Davis (Elon) crushed a lead off Home Run to pull the home team to within 5-3 and David Wilson reached on shot to the short stop. Bradley Ray followed with a walk and both runners advanced on a wild pitch by Wrangler reliever Matt Boylan. Front Royal had the tying runners on second and third base with no outs. Boylan (Brown) settled down to get Garrett Maines on a 4-3 ground out that scored Wilson to trim the lead to 5-4 and still just one out. Boylan rared back and recorded a much needed strike out on just three pitches to keep Ray at third base. DeVeney, who stayed in the game after pinch running, walked and stole second base again.
The tension was mounting quickly for both benches and things got even more interesting when Cunningham walked to load the bases. Albanese came to the plate to square off with Boylan with the game on the line. I was standing next to Frank Florio's father (Frank) when the crack of the bat caught our attention. Albanese crushed the pitch to the same part of the park where Cruz had sent his minutes earlier. If it goes over the net it is a Grand Slam, into the net a game winning Ground Rule double or if Markel could track it down it would be a long scary out and whether it was A, B or C- it was going to end the game. Markel played the ball correctly and found the wall then the ball and made the game ending catch on the warning track in the deepest part of the Bing. Ladies and Gentlemen- what a ball game!
Post game notes- Jordan Yost and Travis Smink (Travis coached first base all night) gave Bill Turner a Gatorade bucket (Ice water) shower to the UN-defeated manager (1-0 lifetime). I had two great conversations that will turn into stories over the week-end. One with Mr.Frank Florio about his son and upcoming baseball book and the other with the recently retired Manager of the Wranglers, Mr.Bill Turner. Please check back for what I hope to be great reads.
A special thanks goes out to Mrs. Joni Turner for having batteries to lend us after our camera batteries gave out. Rebecca left the camera with me for the end of the game so I will be anxious to see the quality level of my shots....
Gotta go deliver some papers and mumble to myself about another Maddux no-support/ no-decesion! Take care....