Apr 23, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
For a few seconds late Tuesday afternoon, the Liverpool baseball team had to face the fact that its undefeated run through the early part of the 2008 season was over.
But the Warriors did not have to fret for long.
A reversed call on what could have been the final out of the game allowed the tying run to score — and moments later, Liverpool won it, beating defending state Class AA champion Utica Proctor 9-8 to improve to 9-0 on the season.
From a 6-0 deficit, the Warriors had worked it all the way back to an 8-7 margin in the bottom of the seventh inning and had the bases loaded with one out.
Julio Martinez faced Joe Perrotta, and promptly hit a ground ball right of second base. After the force at second, the throw to first came at the exact same time Martinez hit his foot on the bag.
At first, the umpire called Martinez out, ending the game in Proctor’s favor. But seconds later, as the Raider players were beginning to celebrate a victory, the call was reversed, and Martinez was safe. Since that was the case, Aaron Schuldt, who had run home, was credited with the tying run, and it was 8-8.
Despite vehement protests from the Proctor coaches and players, the reversed call stood, and when Mike Weakley’s grounder eluded Perrotta, Greg Blankenhship raced home with the winning run.
This culminated the Warriors’ long, difficult climb from a nightmarish first inning in this non-league game that, by the end, had as much emotion and intensity as a playoff contest would.
Joe Yager started on the mound for the Warriors — and never got out of the first inning. He walked five batters, two of them with the bases loaded, and an error produced three more runs as Liverpool found itself with its biggest deficit of the season.
But as Vincent Valentino pulled off 5 1/3 innings of solid relief, Liverpool began to climb back. Blankenship’s RBI double ignited a two-run second inning, and another run an inning later made it 7-3.
Proctor briefly regained its margin at 8-3 in the top of the fifth, but the Warriors answered with two runs of its own in the bottom of that frame, making it 8-5. After Matt Wessinger replaced Valentino on the mound set the Raiders down in order in the top of the seventh, the Warriors would get one more chance.
Wessinger reached on an error at shortstop. Dom Caruso singled. Schuldt walked to load the bases, and Blankenship’s bloop single scored Wessinger, making it 8-6. Another bad hop on a Danny Piraino grounder allowed Caruso to get home and make it 8-7, setting up Martinez and the final act.
On Thursday, Liverpool will go for 10 in a row against Rome Free Academy at DeLutis Field, site of this year’s Section III championship games.