UNION 15-YEAR-OLDS LOSE A WEIRD ONE
It was surreal for a while. It turned into a long night. And ultimately, it was a heartbreaker for the Union County boys.
The Union County 13-15 year-old Babe Ruth boys played a strong game in a strange contest at Optimist Field Thursday night in their District 3 Tournament opener against the Baker City Nationals.
The boys lost 3-2 in eight innings in a game that took 3 hours, 45 minutes to complete. The game didn't finish until 11:15 p.m.
Earlier in the day, the Wallowa Valley 13-15 year-olds won their game going away 17-3 over the Baker City Americans.
The length of the Union County game was due to a problem with the lights which delayed play for about an hour at a crucial point of the game.
Union County was behind 2-1 in the sixth when the boys rallied for a run on a two-out RBI single by Ryan Caldwell to tie the score at 2-2.
After fouling off several pitches, Tad Fox finally finagled a walk from Baker City pitcher Derek Howerton.
Fox and Caldwell eventually moved up the basepaths 90 feet on a wild pitch. With runners on second and third and two outs, batter John Chess worked the count to 3-2 when a bank of lights suddenly went out.
A crew of volunteers worked diligently in the dark to get the lights repaired. Meanwhile, the players stretched, threw and relaxed in the dark for the next hour or so.
After the lights were brought back to life, the drama quickly came to a close, as Howerton threw a single pitch at the knees to punch out Chess looking, ending the inning.
Union County hurler Trent Evins, who was locked in an excellent pitchers' duel with Howerton for seven innings, got out of a big jam in the bottom of the seventh. Baker City put runners at first and third with just one out, but Evins struck out the next two batters to end the threat.
Vance Kern came in to pitch the eighth for Union County. Baker City eventually broke through in the bottom of the eighth, scoring after a couple of walks and a throwing error to win 3-2.
Fortunately, the Union County boys get to sleep in today before having to play again. They play at 7:30 p.m. today against the Snake River Valley Nationals.
Wallowa Valley next plays at 12:30 p.m. today against the Snake River Valley Americans.