The first time your team plays a game that goes 17 innings, it feels like a unique experience. The second time, the novelty wears a little thin, especially if it's only three days after the first time.
"You don't get to be a part of a 17-inning ballgame very often. And then twice in one week ... well, it's a lot," Lake Elsinore Storm manager Shawn Wooten said. "It wears on the team and it wears on you a little bit. But it's one of those up-and-down type things and these guys competed, all the way down the roster."
Wooten's team outlasted the Modesto Nuts, 4-3, on a long Friday night in Lake Elsinore. The Storm lost a 17-inning affair to Stockton, 11-9, on Tuesday afternoon, had a much-deserved day off Wednesday, then had Thursday night's game against Modesto suspended in the sixth inning due to a bomb threat.
"It's the first time in my career I've ever seen a game canceled like that," said Wooten, whose 16-year playing career included 267 games in the Major Leagues. He's in his third season as a Minor League manager.
"That's why I knew it was serious -- when they [suspend] a game, 0-0, without it being weather-related -- that's when I knew I had to get my team out, regardless of what they were doing or where they may have been. I just made sure to get them out, away from the field, and let the police do their job."
Lake Elsinore returned to The Diamond ready to play Friday night. But after the Nuts tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the sixth, neither team scored again for 10 innings.
Storm first baseman Travis Whitmore led off the bottom of the 17th with a single and advanced to second on a bunt by Padres No. 20 prospect Travis Jankowski, who reached safely on third baseman Tim Smalling's error. Cory Spangenberg, San Diego's ninth-ranked prospect laid down a bunt of his own and Whitmore scored from second after catcher Will Swanner made an errant throw that led to a collision at first base.
Brian Humphries, who went 5-for-8 with a run scored, and Taylor Featherston, who was 3-for-8, were the only Nuts to collect more than two hits. Spangenberg went 3-for-7 for Lake Elsinore.
Wooten said he hoped his team could use the momentum to overcome inevitable fatigue -- the teams play a doubleheader Saturday that was created by Thursday's suspension.
"Hopefully, we just come back and compete hard tomorrow," he said. "We know what it feels like to play 17 innings and lose a game and now we know what it feels like to play 17 innings and win. I hope we can use that to start our own little streak, which we haven't really had yet this year."