Ninth Inning Rally, Injury Stuns Stars
The San Rafael Pacifics broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the ninth inning against the Hawai`i Stars when Steve Boggs’ single to right field scored Zack Pace, helping the Pacifics defeat the Stars 3-2. Unfortunately for the Stars, the go-ahead run also led to a costly injury to one of their young catchers.
Right fielder Steve Tedesco fielded Boggs’ line drive hit, and fired a dart toward home plate and catcher Jensen Torres. The throw beat Pace by several steps putting the runner in a difficult position to force a collision at home plate to eject the ball from Torres’ mitt. Pace barreled through Torres in front of home plate, knocking the ball out of the catcher’s hands and scoring the go-ahead run. Unfortunately, the heavy impact of the play left Torres laying on the ground for several minutes, initially motionless. Paramedics made their way to the stadium to get out Torres on a stretcher. As he was being rolled off of the field, the California-born player lifted his right arm slightly and game his teammates and the crowd a thumbs up.
Stars’ General Manager Frank Hecomovich said after the game that Torres showed some movement in the ambulance on his way to the hospital.
The Stars were clearly shaken up after the serious injury. Starting pitcher Dallas Mahan’s first pitch after the nearly 20 minute delay sailed behind the next hitter, who he eventually hit with a pitch. The next batter, Maikel Jova, hit a high bouncing ball to second baseman Dion Pouncil, who couldn’t complete the inning-ending play when he sent his throw to first base wide of Anthony Lopez, allowing Boggs to score from third base.
The home team tried to show some life in the bottom of the ninth inning against Pacifics reliever Julian Arballo. With one out, Arnoldo Ponce drove a ball over the right-center field fence for what appeared to be a home run. Seconds later, the ball appeared back on the field, and San Rafael outfielders hurried the ball back to the infield. The two-man umpiring crew did not see the ball go over the fence and ruled that Ponce hit only a double.
What did the umpires miss?
The ball clearly traveled over the wall in right-center field, landing in front of a palm tree in the area. Two kids were standing in that very spot when the ball landed over the wall, and one of the kids threw the ball back onto the field, something that the umpires did not catch.
What were kids doing beyond the outfield wall in an area that is not accessible from the entrance ways to Wong Stadium? That’s another question.
The missed call cost the Stars a run initially. The next batter, Matt Hibbert, dropped a bunt down the third base line, forcing a throwing error from Henry Calderon to score Ponce from second base. Hawai`i had a great chance to tie the game after Reece Alnas hit a weak dribbler through the middle of the infield. Shortstop Darrick Hale stopped the ball from getting through into center field and, instead of throwing to first base, fired the ball to home plate, where he caught Hibbert halfway between third base and tie game. The Stars’ center fielder was eventually tagged out at third base, ending the home team’s comeback hopes.
For eight innings, a pitcher’s duel between Jake Rasner and Dallas Mahan captivated a small crowd at Wong Stadium. Mahan (0-6) was an unlucky loser, pitching eight and two-thirds innings of dominant baseball, allowing all three runs, one earned, and striking out seven, while scattering seven hits. Roman Martinez came out of the bullpen to get the final out.
Before giving up the two costly ninth-inning runs, Mahan’s only other run allowed was an unearned run in the fifth inning. Pacifics second baseman Chase Fontaine drove in Johnny Woodward with a line drive RBI single to left field.
Rasner was equally outstanding, despite taking a no-decision after seven innings of work. He allowed only one earned run, an Alnas RBI single in the bottom of the fifth inning, on five hits with four strikeouts and one walk. Arballo (5-2) entered the game in the eighth inning, and despite allowing a run in the ninth inning, struck out five batters and allowed three hits.
Jova, one of the North American Baseball League’s leading hitters, was once again spectacular Tuesday, upping his batting average to .380 with a two hit performance. Fontaine added two hits, including the team’s only extra-base hit with a double, to improve his average to .316
Hibbert and Alnas each contributed a pair of hits for the losing squad. Alnas’ RBI was his 11th of the season.
San Rafael 000 100 002 – 3 7 1
Hawai`i 000 100 001 – 2 8 3