An Incredible Game-

As we went into the last month of play, our division was in a three team scramble to the championship and mediocrity(none of us are likely to finish over .500).  But in a series where Boston was playing at the Buckeye, seemingly for a playoff spot, an incredible and incalculable thing occurred.  These two non-juggernauts, whose managers each had highly limited usage waged a titan struggle, in of course, you guessed it game four of a four game series.   As I went to the last game, Boston had about eight relief innings left, with the fluff arm starter Heredia starting, but surely he’d get through an inning before becoming a victim.  This was highly unlikely given the Buckeye’s season long inability to hit even the worst #5 starter.  But the great equalizer was on the mound for Buckeye.  Yes you guessed it the Titan struggle for the playoffs came down to a struggle of #7 starters, as the Buckeyes cupboard was entirely bare and out came the four million dollar man, Jose Lima. Capably armed with a sole victory in his ten pitiful starts.  Even that one victory was a fluke as he was averaging an incredible two hits per inning, prior to the game.  Game four was lost for sure for the Buckeye, as Boston has a formidable line-up of bashers scheduled.   

Of course the game went as expected as Lima was shelled in the first giving up four runs rapidly.  But in the bottom of the second the quiet bats of the Buckeye came alive to tie the score.  The two pitchers did their best giving up runs and hits, but in equal amounts, so each of the managers were able to milk their tired warriors for essential innings.  Heredia struggles through five complete and gave up 8 runs on 12 hits, but he left with just a two run defict.  Boston’s bats and Lima still on the mound, guaranteed that the lead was not safe.  Hal suddenly came into action and began replacing Boston pitchers and miraculously kept up with the inning limitations quite well for Boston.  Lima wound up going 8.2 innings, but would not get a win, as Boston would take a lead into the bottom of the ninth of one run.  A well fought game four would surely be Bostons now as the anemic Buckeye could count on one clumsy lumberjacks hand the number of come from behind victories they had celebrated.  But something magical was bout to occur, as the Buckeye tied the game in the bottom of the ninth.  With five pitchers used for Boston, extra innings were just not needed, especially considering the two teams had just met in the previous series in Boston and played a marathon 15 inning affair.  

As the successive innings started, usage was carefully calculated and Boston relievers were removed as they used up their available innings, victory was an after thought for each team, as we were trying not to get fined.  The playoffs were no longer on the line, but a million dollar fine was.  Boston and Buckeye exchanged tired relievers to the 12th inning, when both teams scored and faced the unlikelihood of a thirteenth inning.  Suddenly,  I sensed that something special was going on, I was remembering back to a game I witnessed when I was a young boy and the Phillies and Cubs met up in their titanic marathon.  I stopped the game at that point to try and figure out available pitching and knew that Quantrill had five innings left for Boston, so I made the no brainer decision that he would be used for the last couple of innings.  The Buckeye bullpen still had four relievers avaiable, due to the awful, but lengthy effort provided by Lima.  So overusage was not a problem.  The batters were checked for overusage and substitutions were made as needed to avoid fines. These new players and pitchers brought fresh life to the game and each side began to pull off miracles in keeping the game tied at 10.  Boston would pull off five double plays in the next six innings to keep Buckeye at bay.  As an assortment of Buckeye pitchers would go to the mound and miraculously throw eight scoreless innings against the big bats of Boston.  During this scoreless streak Boston ran out of relievers, so an earlier series starter was brought in.  Having been bombed in his early start, the Buckeye fans saw victory likely but they would be put down in successive innings.  Finally, in the 21st inning Boston would score the winning run and an incredible game would come to an end, but fate was not done yet, as the scrappy Buckeye would tie the game on what would wind up being one of Mirabelli’s eight hits for the game.  The struggle would therefore continue to it’s incredible 22nd inning.  The 22nd inning would turn into the 23rd when Boston would seal the game with a run in the top of the inning and a win would finally be garnished by Boston’s 12th pitcher S. Etherton.  But the Buckeye had another miracle in the ready, as Mirabelli would once again come through and tie up the game.   Boston would durely lose this game, but Etherton would resort to Vaseline and spit in extending the game by getting out of what was now the fourth bases loaded situation for Boston pitchers.  Buckeye fans, fooled twice before into a sense of confidence, were now in the catbird seat, as Boston’s depleted pitching was looking at having to use a position player to pitch, should Etheroton falter.  Buckeye pitching was equally feeble though, as only lefty specialist Venafro remained to keep Buckeye from bringing back an earlier games starter.  But Etherton and Venafro would incredibly match each other pitch for pitch for three innings by pitching through bases loaded situation and through the hearts of each of these lineups.  Venafro would look at his manager, having been declared tired by the game sense the 25th inning, but would still get the nod and come out of the dugout for an incredible 27th inning.  

Venafro simply had nothing left when he staggered out to the mound to face the heart of Bostons order.  Bostons murders row had already teed off on eight Buckeye pitchers for 12 runs, four homeruns, and 25 hits, in the previous 26 innings.  Looking at the tired pitcher, the Buckeye Manager, began warming up game two starter Cordova for his last eligible inning.  Venafro would walk his first batter, before starting batting practice for Boston.  Down four runs, but knowing that the incredible was now possible, the Buckeye Manager summoned his tired game two starter and hoped that he would put out the flames.  Unfortunately, Cordova brought out a batting tee for Boston hitters and they slugged successive homerun after homerun, until the twelfth run of the inning would cross home plate, equaling the total they’d scored in the previous 26 frames.  All told Boston would hit five homeruns and collect twelve hits in the inning.  A tired Etherton would take the mound in the bottom of the 27th to face the anemic bats of Buckeye and after giving up three runs, this incredible game would conclude.  Incredibly, nineteen pitchers would be used over the 27 innings, with 15 homeruns, 67 hits and 39 runs being tallied.   

This loss would likely be the coffin nail in Buckeye play-off hopes, but the incredible game made the moment unforgettable.  Below is the Box Score of the single greatest game I’ve ever had the honor to play and ultimately lose.  Troy Glaus was undeniably the player of the game as he collected 3 homeruns, seven hits, stole his 20th base of the season and reached base an incredible ten times. 

1]BOXSCORE: 2001 Boston Storm At 2001 Buckeye Express                  3/8/2000

    Storm                AB  R  H RBI AVG     Express               AB  R  H RBI AVG
 B.Anderson LF     5  1  1  2 .278          J.Hairston Jr. 2B    10  2   5   3    .290 
C-S.Javier LF        8  0  2  0 .312           T.Nixon      CF      10  1  1  1 .245 
    K.Lofton CF     12  2  3  0 .283      G-P.Konerko PH,3B  2  0  0  0 .298 
    T.Helton 1B      14  5  6  4 .386         C.Curtis RF,LF      11  0  2  1 .282 
    T.Glaus 3B       11  4  7  5 .331         J.Posada C              9  2  2  2 .268 
    D.Bichette DH  14  4  3  3 .327          C.Paquette 3B,RF  13  1  3  0 .273 
    J.Burnitz RF     12  3  5  3 .196         B.Grieve LF             4  1  2  0 .261 
    L.Alicea 2B     12  3  3  3 .347       E-R.Christenson PR,LF 6  0  1  0 .203 
    J.Girardi C       12  1  3  2 .280          J.Offerman 1B         13  0  4  1 .272 
    A.Cora SS        5  0  1  1 .235           E.Wilson SS           10  4  4  0 .317 
A-B.Jordan PR     0  0  0  0 .277        F-R.Furcal PH,SS      1  1  0  1 .301 
B-B.Gil SS           0  0  0  0 .262            D.Mirabelli DH       13  3  8  5 .298 
D-J.Cabrera SS   7  1  1  1 .278                                         
                     -- -- -- ---                            -- -- -- ---     
[1]         Totals     112 24 35 24                 Totals     102 15 32 14

A-Pinch Ran For Cora In 11th Inning
B-Subbed Defensively (SS) For Jordan In 11th Inning
C-Subbed Defensively (LF) For Anderson In 12th Inning
D-Subbed Defensively (SS) For Gil In 12th Inning
E-Pinch Ran For Grieve In 13th Inning
F-Pinch Hit For Wilson In 25th Inning
G-Pinch Hit For Nixon In 26th Inning

Storm........... 4 0 0  1 1 0  0 1 2  0 0 1  0 0 0  0 0 0  0 0 1  0 1 0  0 012  - 24 35  1
Express......... 0 4 1  1 0 3  0 0 0  0 0 1  0 0 0  0 0 0  0 0 1  0 1 0  0 0 3  - 15 32  3

[1]Storm                    IP    H   R  ER  BB  SO  HR    ERA
G.Heredia                 5      12   8   8     1     5     2      4.05
N.Cruz                      2       2    1   1     1     2     0      4.50
D.Weathers               1       0   0   0      1     1     0      4.01
J.Paniagua                 1       1   0   0      1     1     0      8.01
M.Whisenant             1       0   0   0      2     1     0      2.92
O.Masaoka               2/3    0   0   0      0     2     0      1.86
T.Martin                   1/3     0   0   0      1     0     0      3.60
J.Shaw BS(1st)         2/3    1   1   1       0     0     1      7.86
M.Herges               1 1/3    0   0   0      2     1      0      3.48
P.Quantrill                 5       4   0   0      2      2     0      6.75
L.Painter                   5       7   2   2      1      3     0      3.84
S.Etherton WIN(5-0)4       5   3   3      2      2     1      2.08
[1]Totals                   27    32  5  15    14     20   4

[1]Express                       IP       H   R  ER  BB  SO  HR    ERA
J.Lima                             8 2/3  11   9   9     3  
  5     3      7.62
M.Fetters                          2/3    0    0   0     1     0     0      2.51
M.Johnson                         4      4    1   0     2     1     0      4.70
B.Groom                           3      2    0   0     0     1     0      2.81
M.Mantei                       3 2/3   0    0    0     2     5     0      3.73
R.Mendoza                       3      5    2    2     0     1     1      4.99
M.Venafro LOSS(3-3)  3 1/3   5   4     3     2     3     1      6.75
F.Cordova                         2/3  8   8     8     0     0     6      4.90
[1]Totals                            27  35  24  17   10   16   11

ATTENDANCE- 29,964 DATE-  TIME- Night WEATHER- Average
UMPIRES- Scott Higgins, Kerwin Danley, Angel Hernandez, Andrew Fletcher
T- 10:56
LEFT ON BASE- Storm:19  Express:23
DOUBLE PLAYS- Storm: 7  Express: 3
ERRORS- T.Martin, J.Hairston Jr.-2, C.Paquette
DOUBLES- K.Lofton(18th), T.Helton-2(67th), T.Glaus(37th), L.Alicea(22nd),
         J.Hairston Jr.(4th), C.Curtis(24th), C.Paquette(26th),
         B.Grieve-2(44th), E.Wilson(13th), D.Mirabelli(11th)
TRIPLES- K.Lofton(4th), D.Bichette(2nd)
HOME RUNS- B.Anderson(12th), T.Helton-2(27th), T.Glaus-3(54th),
           D.Bichette(24th), J.Burnitz-2(22nd), J.Girardi(8th), J.Cabrera(1st),
           T.Nixon(11th), J.Posada(19th), D.Mirabelli-2(6th)
STOLEN BASES- T.Glaus(20th), R.Christenson(2nd)
CAUGHT STEALING- K.Lofton-2, R.Furcal
SACRIFICE HITS- L.Alicea, J.Girardi
SACRIFICE FLIES- J.Hairston Jr.-2, J.Posada
WALKS- B.Anderson, K.Lofton-2, T.Glaus-3, J.Burnitz-2, L.Alicea, J.Cabrera,
       J.Hairston Jr.-2, T.Nixon-2, C.Curtis-2, J.Posada-3, B.Grieve-3,
       E.Wilson, R.Furcal
STRIKE OUTS- B.Anderson, S.Javier-2, K.Lofton-2, T.Glaus, D.Bichette-2,
             J.Burnitz-2, L.Alicea-2, J.Girardi-3, A.Cora, J.Hairston Jr.,
             T.Nixon-3, C.Curtis-2, J.Posada-4, C.Paquette-4, B.Grieve,
             R.Christenson-3, E.Wilson, D.Mirabelli
GIDP- T.Helton, D.Bichette, L.Alicea, T.Nixon, B.Grieve, J.Offerman, E.Wilson-2
WILD PITCHES- N.Cruz, M.Whisenant, L.Painter-2, J.Lima, M.Venafro

Troy Glaus slammed 3 homeruns and had 5 RBI at Comerica Park as the Boston
Storm beat the Buckeye Express in 27 innings 24 to 15.

The score was tied at 9 after nine.  Boston won the game in the 27th inning.
The highlight belonged to Glaus who silenced the stadium when he lifted one
out of the park for a two run home run.  Boston provided plenty of action in
the 1st inning when they had 4 runs on 3 hits and the 27th inning when they
had 12 runs on 11 hits.  This was the kind of game that many fans love as the
lead changed hands 8 times. 

Seth Etherton(5-0) went 4 innings allowing 3 runs for the win. Mike
Venafro(3-3) ended up with the loss in relief.  He allowed Boston 4 runs in 3
and 1/3 innings of work.