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Johnson single-handedly wins marathon04/17/2008 1:44 AM ET
By Steve Conley
It took the Portland Sea Dogs and Connecticut Defenders nearly six hours to play 17 innings on Wednesday night. Twenty men played the field and 14 pitched, but it was the two who did both that made all the difference.
Winning pitcher Jay Johnson doubled home Jeff Corsaletti from first in the bottom of the 17th to give the Sea Dogs an 8-7 victory over the Defenders at Hadlock Field.
Corsaletti drew a leadoff walk from third baseman-turned-pitcher Simon Klink before Johnson sent a drive to left field to end the marathon.
"I was just expecting something straight to take a swing at and he threw me a hanging curve on the second pitch that I got around on," Johnson said.
The hit ended the longest game in Portland history, eclipsing the previous mark of five hours and 30 minutes set in a 16-inning loss to the Binghamton Mets on July 8, 1994.
Johnson spent the first 15 innings in left field before making the second pitching appearance of his four-year Minor League career.
"I pitched an inning last year, so I had an idea of what I was doing out there," he said. "The guys got excited when I came on to pitch, so it definitely gave us a little boost."
The 25-year-old Kentucky native tossed a perfect inning before getting into trouble in the 17th. After Carlos Sosa hit a leadoff double, Johnson reached into his bag of tricks and fanned Travis Denker.
"I got ahead of him in the count, so it was the perfect time for a knuckleball," said Johnson.
After Klink singled to put runners on the corners, Johnson intentionally walked Olmo Rosario to load the bases and bring up Kyle Haines.
"We got to a 2-2 count and I told [catcher] John [Otness] I wanted to throw the knuckler again. He just looked at me and told me to go for it," Johnson said.
Haines grounded into an inning-ending double play and Johnson became the hero in the bottom of the frame.
The Sea Dogs were three outs from a win when Adam Witter led off the ninth against Jose Vaquedano and hit his fourth home run.
Connecticut (6-7) managed only six baserunners against three relievers in extra innings. Miguel Asencio allowed a single and a walk in two frames and Daniel Haigwood worked around a walk while striking out four over three innings.
Portland (9-3) threatened in the 16th, when Iggy Suarez got aboard on a leadoff single and moved up on a wild pitch by reliever Ryan Sadowski. But he was cut down at third when Sean Danielson grounded one back to Sadowski.
Portland starter Michael Bowden gave up two runs on four hits and four walks while fanning four in 4 2/3 frames.
Johnson finished 3-for-6 with a pair of RBIs, Aaron Bates also had three hits and scored twice and Otness went 3-for-7 with two RBIs for the Sea Dogs.
"It was a long, drawn-out game, but it was a fun experience," Johnson said as he prepared for a six-hour bus ride to Binghamton, N.Y. "The mood was pretty light afterwards. It was nice to get a win and get outta there."
Haines was 3-for-7 for the Defenders, who got two hits apiece from Ben Copeland and Antoan Richardson.
Klink (0-1) allowed one run on one hit without recording an out in the first pitching appearance of his five-year career. Connecticut starter Dave McKae allowed three runs on two hits and six walks with two strikeouts in five innings.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.