Shockers stun Pirates
Umpire Tom Tamlin and Pirates Manager Evan Meece are not the best of friends and it showed late Wednesday night in a 7-6 nailbiter at Russ Jacobson field in New York Mills.
"You're the worst umpire ever!" said Meece and that was about as congenial as the niceties got.
Tamlin did little to help his own cause and found himself on the end of two irate dugouts from calling a seemingly pliant strike zone.
The fans were really on him in a rowdy late night affair that flirted with the witching hour.
The Shockers took an early three-run lead in the first before Johnnie Schmitz shut down the Wadena-Deer Creek offense for the next five innings.
As the moon crept above the tree line in left field to get a better view of the game the lunacy was about to unfold.
The Pirates would chip away at the deficit scoring two in the third, before taking the lead with another pair of runs in the sixth on a broken bat single from catcher Sam Meyer. Josh Hendricks walked in from third base but first baseman Beau Bruhn rumbled the last 90 feet before plunging head first into home for the lead.
"I put on my fast tracks," Bruhn laughed in the dugout.
Tyler Doll and Brad Ellingson led off the top of seven with singles, were sacrificed to second and third by Gavin Biegler before Hendricks returned to the plate with a big two RBI base hit to give the Pirates a 6-3 lead.
In the bottom half, Jayme George would score on a wild last inning of work for Schmitz. He walked two and beaned Travis George and JJ Truax, but managed to avert disaster striking out big Eric Blom and inducing a fly to right from Seth Hamann to end the threat.
An oddity occurred in the beaning of George as the ball sounded like it hit the bat when it was clearly visible striking the batter in the glutes. George removed a dented chew tin from his pocket on his way to first.
But the real weirdness was about to strike in the eighth inning and Tamlin was in the middle of it.
Meyer and Doll fanned and Ellingson popped to right to negate Shane Miller, who had singled with one out.
Meece hurled insults at Tamlin on called strikes in the dirt. The Shockers third baseman Casey Johnson hurled insults at Meece. The two had to be separated.
It was a melee and about to get worse.
In the bottom half of the eighth, with Ellingson on in relief, Andrew Dornbusch singled, Justin Sperling walked before Johnson laid down a sacrifice to move both runners up a bag to second and third.
Jayme George hit a hard grounder snagged by Bruhn at first base for an unassisted first out that scored Dornbusch from third, moving Sperling 90 feet away from tying the game at six with two out.
Ellingson delivered a strike to Jaime Nordlund and Nordlund popped straight up halfway up the first baseline. The Pirates were out of the inning.
Ellingson squeezed the pop in his glove. Tamlin gave the signal the batter was out and bringing his glove and the ball down from over his head, Ellingson dropped the ball to the turf.
The Shockers bench erupted in squelch. Sperling snuck home from third. The game was either tied at six with two out and Nordlund on first or it was a 6-5 lead for the Pirates going to the ninth.
It was then the umpiring crew met between the mound and home plate discussing the play. The crowd was seething on both sides. Players were strewn about the field. Curses were flying around thicker than the mosquitoes. The moon just sat there waiting.
Then, Evan Meece went out of his skull. Tamlin reversed his call, counted the run and the game was tied at six. It took some time to restore order, including, Tamlin asking Meece if he'd like to remain in the game, to which the manager replied, "No, I want you to throw me out."
Ellingson got Travis George to ground out to shortstop and it was on to the ninth.
Gavin Biegler singled to lead off the final frame and promptly stole second and third base. Hendricks flied out to short left. Anthony Ruther struck out and Bruhn stepped to the plate looking for the lead.
Suddenly, Biegler took off from third trying the steal home. For fifty feet it looked like he was going to make it. The play was going to be close, but with recent umpiring history he was going to have to be more than close. He dove headfirst reaching for the plate with his right hand. The ball thumped into catcher Nordlund's glove. The tag was applied. A long moment occurred where everyone just stared at Tamlin.
The place went nuts.
The Shockers, coming off a bottom of nine victory last Sunday over New York Mills, strode to the plate looking for freebies or any way to get on base.
Ellingson walked Blom to lead off the inning. The Shockers replaced the brute with a pinch runner, who took three steps off of first before Ellingson drilled a dart to Bruhn to pick him off.
Truax would sneak to first on a bean he did little to get away from, advance to second on a walk to Hamann and Andrew Dornbusch would also walk to load the bases for the third time in the last four innings.
Sperling smashed a base hit through Ty Doll at short to bring home Truax with the game winner.
Tamlin and the field umpire left the ballpark to the bellowing of Pirates and many irate fans. One fan in the parking lot was seen and heard screaming at the top of his lungs to the retreating boys in blue as they ambled to their cars.
The game was played in New York Mills after being scheduled for Deer Creek. The lack of lighting forced the change of venue.
The Shockers, living up to their name, take their streak of back-to-back last-at bat wins to Detroit Lakes Friday night at 7:30 p.m. to take on the Angels looking for a birth in the finals against Bertha Saturday, at 1:30 p.m. in Bertha.