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The Oddities of a Suspended Game
08/02/2013 11:12 AM ET
 

On June 25, the IronBirds traveled to Richmond County Bank Ballpark to play the final game of a three-game set with the Staten Island Yankees. The IronBirds grabbed an early lead, plating four runs in the top of the first inning. But in the bottom of the second, the Yankees fired back with six runs, punctuated by a grand slam off the bat of designated hitter Yeicok Calderon. By the middle of the fifth, the IronBirds trailed by a score of 8-4. Things did not look promising for the visiting team.

And then the lights went out.

Though the Staten Island grounds crew worked tirelessly to get them back on, the baseball gods had other ideas. The lights came back on briefly, flickered, and then went out again. With no power, the game was suspended, to be continued at a later date.

Since the game was the last of a three-game set, the game couldn't be made up that week. Instead, the conclusion of the game was scheduled for the next time the IronBirds would visit Staten Island - July 28th.

So 32 days, 19 hours, and 28 minutes after the end of the top of the fifth inning ended, the IronBirds took the field for the bottom of the inning.

When play finally resumed, the IronBirds looked like a different team than the one that fell behind a month before. They scored two each in the seventh and eighth innings to send what was already one of the longest games in IronBirds' history into extra innings. In the top of the tenth, the IronBirds scored three runs on four consecutive hits, including a two-run double by Hector Veloz, to win the game, 11-8.

The extra inning game was the second of the series - the "night before" (June 24th), the IronBirds had played 13 innings in a 3-2 loss. The win moved the IronBirds to a very strong 6-2 in extra-inning games. The back-and-forth affair was the highest-scoring extra-inning game the IronBirds had played all season.

Baseball's rules state that, in the event off a suspended game, all statistics are retroactive to the original date of the game. Because of this rule quirk, the game's suspension and resumption after a month-long delay caused a number of statistical oddities.

The starting pitcher, Austin Urban, struggled in the first half of the game. In four innings, he had given up 8 runs on 8 hits, including the Calderon grand slam. But in the resumption of the game, Urban was given a chance to atone.

"The suspended game fell on my day to pitch, so I got to go back out there," Urban explained. "In the month that it took to get that game restarted, I made some big adjustments, and I approached it as a completely different start."

Urban, given the opportunity to keep his team in the game, shut down the same Yankee lineup he had struggled against the month before. In the four innings he pitched after the game was resumed, Urban gave up only 1 hit and 3 walks, striking out 4.

Urban's final line is strange to say the least: 8 innings pitched, 9 hits, 8 runs (all earned), 6 walks, and 6 strikeouts. All told, he threw a staggering 156 pitches, a number that would seem impossible if there weren't a 32-day break in between pitch number 72 and 73.

Two IronBirds' players played important roles in the outcome of the game, even though they weren't even on the roster when it began.

Donnie Hart pitched scoreless 9th and 10th innings in relief of Urban, striking out two while allowing only one hit. His dominant performance earned the 23-year old his first professional win. But Hart hadn't even been on the roster on June 25th - he wouldn't appear in a game until June 29th. So even though he had pitched seven times before entering the suspended game, that appearance is credited as his pro debut.

"As a reliever, you hope that you never have to have a win-loss record, and you can always come in with your team leading and lock down your starter's win," the ever-modest Hart said. "But getting your first win is something you'll always remember, especially when it happens in a game like that."

Mike Yastrzemski, the IronBirds' leading hitter, joined the roster on June 28th after signing with the Orioles out of Vanderbilt University. When the suspended game resumed, he subbed in for Anthony Vega, and in his first at bat, pulled a double down the first base line. However, since all statistics for the game are retroactive to June 25th, Yastrzemski gets credit for having played on that date, meaning that double down the line is recorded as his first professional hit - something Yastrzemski was entirely unaware of.

"That's amazing," Yastrzemski said after learning of his accomplishment. "I was just trying to help the club, I had no idea that would count as my first pro hit."

One IronBirds' player managed to accomplish some history thanks in part to the suspended game. Jared Breen started the game on the 25th, and went 0-2 before the game was suspended. In the next game, Breen started a 17-game hitting streak, tied for the longest in franchise history. The streak was snapped on July 17th, when Breen went 0-5 in a game against Vermont. However, if Breen managed to get a hit in the suspended game, that game would count as the first in his hit streak, extending the streak to a team-record 18 games.

In the eighth inning, Breen hit a ground ball through the hole into left field, and the record was his.

"It was funny because me and [IronBirds radio broadcaster] Paul Taylor were talking about it afterwards, about the hit that broke the streak was what technically started it," Breen said. "It was funny how that all played out."

One other note from that fascinating day: the IronBirds were supposed to follow up the completion of the suspended game by playing another game right after it. But after the two teams had completed the suspended game, the skies opened up. The rain would not let up, and in an ironic twist of fate, the second game was postponed, although instead of a 32-day delay, the two teams only had to wait one night - they played a doubleheader the next day.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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