I was all set to focus my Ballpark Tours 2016 Bleacher Bums XXXIV Day Seven post on the key plays and players in the (independent) Frontier League April 18 extra-inning contest between the Gateway Grizzlies and home team Southern Illinois Miners (at Rent One Park in Marion, IL) – with a short aside on how our Ballpark Tours group led the crowd in Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the seventh inning stretch.
Then came the eleventh inning – and once again, I couldn’t bury the lead. Very simply, the Miners topped the Grizzlies 3-2 in a manner that: 1) I’ve never seen before; and 2) defied both logic and my scorecard capabilities.
Here’s how it unfolded. After eleven innings, the score was tied 2-2. The Grizzlies had two runs and eight hits; the Miners two tallies and nine hits. It was the announced that – in accordance with Frontier League rules (enforced after 10 innings) – each team would start their eleventh inning at bat with a runner on second (and no outs, of course). Note: As events unfolded, we determined that the runner would be the player who made the last out the previous inning.
So, here’s how it ended. In the top of the eleventh, the Grizzlies started with the player who made the last out in the tenth (1B Seth Heck) on second. Miners’ pitcher Adam Lopez (the fifth hurler for Southern Illinois) retired 3B Zach Lavy on a ground out (pitcher to first), with Heck moving to third. Lopez then got DH Craig Massoni on a hard grounder down the third bases line, with Miners’ 3B Steve Marino making nice play, holding the runner at third. Lopez then fanned C Tyler Tewell to get of the rules-generated jam. The questions seemed to be, how do you note the sidden presence of the runner on second on the scorecard – and, if he had scored, would the pitcher be charged with and earned run? Lopez dodged that bullet – and so did those of us keeping score.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Miners started with 2B Shane Kennedy on second base, which seemed a pretty fortuitous situation, since Kennedy already had two stolen bases in the game. Grizzlies’ pitcher Will LaMarche got Miners’ DH Toby DeMello on a grounder to first base (after a failed sacrifice attempt), but Kennedy moved over to third. Miners’ RF Nolan Early was intentionally walked to set up the double play. (More than one person in our group – myself included – wondered why they didn’t walk the bases full to set up a force at home and create some margin for error.) The next hitter – 1B Alex De Leon grounded to short. The Grizzlies got the force out at second (6-4), but failed to get the runner at first. The winning run – scored by the “gift” runner – came across. Earned or unearned? And, LaMarche, we assume, took the loss when a runner he had nothing to do with crossed the plate.
Overall, it was a pretty well-played game, with the Miners taking the lead with two runs in the fourth (on four hits and a sacrifice fly – leaving two on) and the Grizzlies coming back with two in the fifth (on four hits and two walks – leaving three on.) The rest of the scorecard was pretty clean – and the scoreboard showed all zeroes. If I had to chose an offensive star, it would be the Miners’ Shane Kennedy with three hits, two stolen bases and two runs scored (including the one for which he was”gifted” second base.) On the mound, Grizzlies’ starter Vimcent Molesky impressed, going 7 2/3 innings and giving up just two runs on eight hits, two walks (four strikeouts). He wasn’t overpowering, but he was effective when he needed to be.
Now, let’s again take a semi-chronogical look at the events that led up to the game.
We pulled out of Chattanooga at 9:30 a.m. sharp, Thursday, a relatively quiet crew (a number of participants had found a small, nearby blues bar and literally soaked up some local culture and atmosphere after the Lookouts/Biscuits game. The conversation, however, became more lively about two hours into our 5-6 hour drive to Marion, IL. Two factors were probably involved – the normal process of waking up and the fact that a Mimosa and Screwdriver bar sprung into operation at the back of the bus.
We arrived in Marion a bit early for check-in (about 2:00 p.m.), but our tour leader (as usual) had a plan. We disembarked at Marion’s 17TH Street Barbecue – about two blocks from the hotel. A great stop for ribs, brisket, sausage, chicken, pulled pork – plus a wide range of sides including collard greens, okra, coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, baked potatoes (white and sweet), hush puppies, garlic bread and more. And, of course, the full bar didn’t hurt. The staff was well prepared for us – and I heard nothing but rave reviews for the quality of the food, size of the portions, price and service. A fun stop and, again, way better than waiting in a hotel lobby.
Then it was on to the Holiday Inn Express, literally the width of one street from the parking lot of Rent One Park – home of the Frontier League Southern Illinois Miners.
I’ve already commented on the game. Here’s a bit about the ball park.
- The park, which seats 3,400 and was built in 2007, has a very modern (slate grey brick) look.
- We had great seats, along the third base line.
- The score/video board was a little difficult to read – we are a veteran crew.
- It was Throwback Thursday – $1 beers, soft drinks and hot dogs. Our group took full advantage.
- The concessions, overall, were good with several “build-your-own” offerings – burgers, chicken sandwiches and nachos, as well as “signature: sandwiches (pork chop, cajun burger, steak, etc.)
- The park was out of a promised specialty item – a meatball sandwich which signaged indicated was available Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. (It was Thursday). The worker at the concession stand indicated they had been out of meatballs all week,.
- The parking was close, ample and only $3.
- The prorgram/scorecard was free.
- Our group was chosen to be “on the big board” and lead the crowd in the seventh inning rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” (Photos to come.)
- A good time was had by all.
So that is Day Seven – 8:30 a.m. departure for Kansas City (Twins/Royals) tomorrow. For more on the ten-day, ten-game, seven-city trip: Day One, click here; Day Two, click here; Day Three, click here; Day Four, click here. Day Five, click here; Day Six, click here.
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Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.