July 28, 2005

The one part of the affiliated minor leagues almost certain to never play again is the Appalachian League. The Appy, unlike any of the other ticket-selling leagues in Minor League Baseball, exists entirely at the whim of Major League Baseball. Any other league and/or its teams could, at least theoretically, continue as an independent operation if MLB withheld prospects permanently. Not so in the Appalachian circuit. To say the loss of this league would be devastating to the sport’s profile in Appalachia is an understatement.

That being said, let’s take a look back to the Burlington Royals time as the Burlington Indians, specifically 15 years ago today, when the B-Tribe defeated the Bluefield Orioles in a most unusual way (no it doesn’t involve a runner starting at second base).

The Burlingtonians were up 1-0 in the middle of the sixth at Burlington Athletic Stadium and seeking one or more insurance runs in the bottom of the frame. They got them. Three of them to be exact. How this happened, well…

The story starts with the bases loaded on a single, double, and intentional walk and two men out. Indians 3B Nick Petrucci walked to the plate and, before he could put a ball in play, Orioles C Cody Wargo misplayed a pitch from starter Wilfrido Perez to allow SS and leadoff hotter Jansy Infante to score. When he did put in the ball in play, the grounder to third seemed like an easy third out, but Orioles 3B Stuart Musslewhite misplayed it, allowing 2B Niuman Romero and B P.J. Hiser to score.

While the runs would prove to be necessary as the Orioles clawed back one run in the eighth, Bluefield, and Perez, ultimately lost the game on a trio of unearned runs in the same plate appearance.


Photo: Burlington Athletic Stadium/Baseball Road Trips

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