A Long Night!
By John Short
A two-out, bases-loaded single by John Velasco in the 16th inning gave the Medicine Hat Mavericks a 4-3 marathon victory over the Edmonton Prospects in the longest game of the young season – approximately five hours – in the Western Canadian Baseball League.
Velasco slapped the ball into the outfield to score Nolan Rattai after Zac Harrington, Edmonton’s fifth pitcher, handed Colton Wright an intentional pass after an earlier walk to Rattai and a single by Sal Rodriguez.
Scoring was rare but base runners were not. Edmonton’s pitchers and the five used by Medicine Hat survived two-out emergencies in virtually every inning after the regulation nine had been completed. Harrington, for example, left the sacks packed in the 13th, his first inning after taking over after an effective stint by David Wylie, touched for only one hit and one walk in four relief innings. Equal to Wylie – and perhaps superior in some ways – was Derek Eubanks, who also found key pitches when he needed them, going five innings without yielding a run.
The most dangerous stretch for him came in the 14th, when singles by incoming third baseman Brendan Luther and Travis Hunt, followed by an error on Eric Crain’s grounder, left the bases loaded with one out for the dangerous Jake Gehri, who entered the game hitting more than .300 and leads Edmonton in homers and runs-batted in. Gehri worked the count to 3-and-2, then ended the threat when Eubanks forced a ground ball that became a crippling double play.
Starters Owen Steele of Medicine Hat and Trever Berg of the Prospects were both effective. Brendan Owens was cracked for a two-run homer by Sal Rodriguez moments he took over for Jesse Poniewozik in the eighth inning. Walks by newcomer Edgar Harrell and pinch-hitter Beaux Guilbeau in the ninth inning became the third and tying Prospects run on a sacrifice fly by Pierce Blohowiak.
Individual batting averages for both teams took a beating. Gehri and Crain each went 1-for-8 for the Prospects. Lead-off man Freddy Walker had identical numbers for Medicine Hat. Luther made his Edmonton debut at second base and had three hits, one fewer than the four collected by Hunt. A handful of Mavericks had two hits apiece.
Edmonton batters were fanned 17 times. The Mavericks went down on strikes 12 times.