July 12, 2007

The baseball fans of Burlington, Vermont had received some bad news the night before. The Lake Monsters (Washington Nationals) game against the Scrappers had been rained out. The good news? A doubleheader! Fourteen innings for the price of nine! In the end, most of the faithful would have preferred the Ex-Expos (Fun Fact: The Vermont Expos were the last team to have the Expos name and tried to keep it, but MLB ordered the name discontinued throughout the affiliated minors.) being rained out again over the extra five innings of torment they were subjected to.

Game one went the way of the Mahoning Valley side 11-2. Yes, the Scrapers scored eleven times (on twelve hits) in seven innings. Actually, all the runs came in an increasingly spectacular four-inning stretch. 1B Todd Martin homered to right center to lead off the second frame with the Niles nine’s lone run of the inning. A two-run third highlighted by RBI fly-ball singled to fight by 3B Jansy Infante and Martin. The fourth was a three-run affair, with SS Mark Thompson doubling to left to score the first run, Infante singling to right again to drive in the second, and the third coming on a wild pitch that led to Lake Monster starter Cole Kimball being pulled mid-plate appearance. The final insult was heaped upon the injuries already inflicted upon the Burlingtonians in the form of a five-run fifth, which was achieved without the assistance of an extra-base hit (five singles, a sacrifice fly, a fielding error, and a wild pitch). On the pitching side, starter Michael Eisenberg allowed only a pair of runs on five hits and a pair of walks before handing the ball off to reliever Garrison Campfield, who pitched a nearly perfect seventh, his only blemish coming on a hit by pitch.

The Scrapper bats were sure to cool off? the pitching staff couldn’t do any better in the nightcap? Right? Thankfully, for the NE Ohio faithful listening back home, the answers to both questions were in the negative.

The Scrapper bats remained loud in the second set of seven innings, producing seven more runs on as many hits. More than enough to offset the lone Vermont baserunner allowed to cross home plate safely. LF Justin Jenkins had the most notable offensive effort of Game 2 with a three-hit contest. This is despite entering the final frame of the seven-inning contest down 1-0. The Scrappers strung together another colossal inning without the assistance of an extra-base hit (of which none were recorder by wither side in this game), going from losing to a runaway victory in the space of three outs on six singles, four walks (one intentional), and a sacrifice bunt.

As crazy as all of this is, the real story of the game, however, was how the Vermonters scored their run. Coming to the plate with two down in the bottom of the third in a scoreless contest, Lake Monster leadoff hitter and CF Brandon Whiting was hit by a pitch from Scrapper starter Kelvin De La Cruz. With SS Daniel Lyons at the plate, Whiting stole both second and third for his seventh and eighth stolen bases of the campaign. On the steal of third, Mahoning Valley C Alex Castillo’s throw was off the mark, allowing Whiting to score.

…and that’s how De La Cruz and relievers Daniel Frega and Vinnie Pestano failed to earn a shutout in their combined no-hitter (Welcome to short-season ball, where even the seven-inning no-hitters are combined!).



Image: Kelvin De La Cruz – MiLB.com

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