Thursday, August 14, 2008

Shelby vs. Puerto Rico

The 5 p.m. Randolph County (NC) vs. Leesburg (Ga.) game finally ended at 10:10 p.m. with the North Carolina champions winning 8-4.

At this unusual late hour, the starting lineups in the American Legion Southeast Regional between Shelby Post 82 (34-14) and Guaynabo, Puerto Rico Post 134:

Shelby is the visitor. The lineup -- Seth Canipe (CF), Brett Wease (SS), Kyle Kendrick (C), Adam McFarland (3B), Julian Ridings (DH), James Gold (1B), Eric Shuford (RF), Corey Cline (2B), Jordan Robinson (LF).
Puerto Rico -- Jorge Laguer (SS), Wilfreo Rosario (RF), Miguel Pagan (3B), Samuel Marrero (1b), Ryan Santos (LF), Jan Vazquez (C), Rafael Sanchez (LF), Angel Fonseca (DH), Jonathan Torres (CF), Brian Quilies (P).

First pitch on this foggy, wet night came at 10:53 p.m.

Shelby drew first blood in the top of the first inning.
Seth Canipe drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on Brett Wease's sacrifice bunt. Adam McFarland lined a two-out double to right-center field to plate Canipe. Shelby would leave two runners stranded in the inning ... Shelby 1, Puerto Rico coming to bat.

Note: Hard to believe there's still more than 1,000-to-1,2000 fans still in the ballpark at this hour.

Oddity: When the first disputed call of the contest occurred in the bottom of the first, there were three coaches from Puerto Rico out talking with the umpires about the play. The umpire ruled that a Guaynabo hitter had leaned into a pitch rather than avoid it and was not allowed to go to first base.
When the coaches came out, the third person from the Puerto Rico bench was thee merely to serve as the translater between the coaches and the umpiring crew.
Shelby pitcher Adam Izokovic allowed a leadoff walk but escaped damage. Shelby still leads, 1-0, after one inning.

Shelby is threatening to break the contest open early.
Post 82 scored five times in the second inning to take a 6-0 lead.
Shelby got only two hits -- a bunt single by Corey Cline and a RBI single by James Gold -- but benefitted from three walks by the Puerto Rico pitchers. An error and hit batsmen also contributed to the rally.
Before the side was out, the Guaynabo coaches made a pitching change, bringing Luis Flores to the mound.

Shelby's lead didn't last long. Puerto Rico scored four times in the bottom of the second on just two hits. Four walks and an error allowed Post 134 to crawl back into the contest. Jordan Robinson came on to replace Shelby starting pitcher Adam Izokovic. Puerto Rico left the bases loaded thanks to a hard liner right at first baseman James Gold to end it.
After two complete innings: Shelby 6, Puerto Rico 4.

In one swing, Shelby Post 82 got most of its lead back. Seth Canipe launched a three-run shot over the left-centerfield wall in the top of the third to lift Shelby back into a 9-4 lead.

It was Puerto Rico's time to use the long ball. Rafael Sanchez drilled a solo opposite field home run in the bottom of the third to draw Post 134 within 9-5.

Shelby went back on the attack in the top of the fourth. Singles by Eric Shuford, Corey Cline and Jordan Robinson netted a run. Canipe then drilled a double to right center to score a pair, giving him five RBI on the night. Canipe later crossed on Adam McFarland's infield single for a 13-5 advantage.

It certainly is a night for offense. Puerto Rico came back with three runs in the bottom of the fourth to make it 13-8, chasing Robinson from the mound in the process. Brett Wease came on for Shelby to get the final out. Rafael Sanchez, who homered earlier in the contest, delivered a two-run, two-out single to spark the rally.

The late-night hits just keep on coming. Jordan Robinson ripped the second Post 82 home run of the night in the bottom of the sixth. His three-run shot lifted Shelby to a 16-8 edge. The inning ended at 1:20 a.m.

Things are getting even crazier around here. Puerto Rico scores five in the bottom of the fifth, including two on a wild pitch where Shelby players thought the opposing batter had been hit by a pitch, but there was no sign by the umpire and the runners kept going. Wease replaced by Eric Shuford on the mound. He's unable to stop the bleeding, giving up a RBI single to Jonathan Torres to make it 16-14.

After 5 innings (at 1:47 a.m.) -- Shelby has 16 runs on 13 hits and has committed 3 errors. Post 82 pitchers have issued 8 total walks.
Puerto Rico stands at 14 runs on 10 hits and also has committed three errors. Post 134 pitchers have allowed seven walks. Only six of the Puerto Rico runs are earned at this point.

Shelby loads the bases on three walks in the top of the sixth inning but leaves them stranded. After 5 1/2 innings, Post 82 still leads 16-14.

Puerto Rico creeps even closer in the bottom of the sixth. Two hits, and error and a walk make it 16-15. Shuford leaves the bases filled with runners, keeping Post 82 in front at 2:25 a.m.

In this, the Shelby baseball version of the Boston Marathon, Post 82 went for two in the top of the seventh inning. Singles by Seth Canipe and Kyle Kendrick, and a walk to Brett Wease, loaded the bases. Consecutive groundouts by Adam McFarland and Julian Ridings brought runners across to make it 18-15.

The Shelby defense posted its first scoreless inning since the first. A one-out line drive to center was caught by Seth Canipe. His throw to first baseman James Gold doubled off the runner to leave the score 18-15 after seven innings at 2:44 p.m.

Shelby loaded the bases in the top of the eighth but Puerto Rico got two straight strikeouts to keep the score at 18-15.

Post 82 dodged another bullet in the bottom of the eighth. James Gold snared a line drive and tagged the bat at first for a double play. Puerto Rico then loaded the bases up but Shuford induced a fly ball to Canipe in center to keep Post 134 at bay with the score still 18-15.

Through eight innings (at 3:15 a.m.), Shelby has left 15 runners on base and Puerto Rico has seen 14 of its runners stranded.

3-up and 3-down for Shelby after 8 1/2 innings. After 4 hours and 29 minutes, we're going to the bottom of the ninth with Post 82 in front, 18-15.

After 4 hours and 45 minutes, it came to an end. Winning pitcher Eric Shuford got a strikeout to strand two runners to complete Shelby's 18-15 win.
Shelby now plays Tuscaloosa, Ala., in the second round tonight at 8.

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