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Bakersfield battle an affair to remember
10/31/2011 10:00 AM ET
Forty-three runs scored on 49 base hits. Nine of 11 pitchers who took to the hill yielded multiple hits and at least one run. Sixteen walks were issued, seven errors committed.

On April 16, a 72-degree night in northern California, 876 fans saw 295 minutes of baseball.

Terdoslavich has record-setting day

Braves prospect Joey Terdoslavich broke a 65-year old Carolina League record on Sept. 9 with his 52nd double of the season as Lynchburg wrapped up the season with a 4-3 victory over Winston-Salem. The Carolina League Midseason All-Star made history with two outs in the first inning against Jake Petricka, besting the mark set in 1946 by Durham's Woody Fair. His 52 two-baggers led all hitters on the Minor League circuit.
And you want to know the crazy part? Inland Empire's drawn-out battle opposite host Bakersfield -- awarded the MiLBY for Class A Advanced Best Game -- lasted your usual nine innings. It set the Cal League record for longest game ever to be decided without extra frames.

The visiting 66ers would overcome a 16-7 deficit with a 10-run sixth inning, but still required a five-run ninth -- eventually, and with a dwindled attendance on hand -- to triumph over the Blaze, 24-19.

"I remember playing defense in the first inning and was starting to think it would be high-scoring. Little did I know," said Bakersfield's leadoff man and center fielder Andrew Means, who recorded his first career five-hit game and fell a triple shy of the cycle. "My home run opened up the floodgates for us."

In fact, after the 66ers' two-run first frame, Means' homer set off a string of five straight innings of Blaze scoring, the latter four of which all included crooked numbers. Included in the never-ending rally: Third baseman Eric Campbell struck a three-run homer -- for three of his career-high six RBIs -- in the fourth, and 11 batters came to bat during a six-run fifth.

As a result, the 66ers found themselves facing a seemingly insurmountable deficit.

"When it's 16-7 and it's in the fifth inning, you're basically thinking to yourself -- well, it was early in the season, so nobody needed rest [out] of my position players," said Inland Empire manager Tom Gamboa, who resigned later in the season due to family reasons. "I was thinking, 'OK, who in the bullpen needs work tonight and how can we regroup for tomorrow?'"

The skipper's mind-set soon changed.

The first 11 66ers to step into the batter's box reached safely: Designated hitter Dillon Baird started the string with a leadoff single and also added a two-run homer. In between, No. 8 hitter Jon Karcich struck a three-run shot.

"That was the best game of Dillon Baird's career," Gamboa said. "And Jon Karcich, who played third that night, had a couple of throwing errors, and he really struggled with the bat all through Spring Training and got off to a horrible start, but he hit a homer to dead center. If he was going to hit one, this was a good time for it to be. That's how ironic the game was.

"I remember telling the guys in the dugout that this was like a 'Rocky' fight. ... I was proud of my guys. I was like, 'These guys aren't giving up.'"

Gamboa would also say later that, with the way his players, now leading 17-16, sprinted out onto the field to play defense in the bottom of the inning, "It was a whole new game."

And it was far from over. The clubs traded runs in the seventh and eighth frames, leading to a 19-19 deadlock before the ninth inning.

"As we were getting closer to ninth, we all started talking about that we wouldn't doubt it if it went into extra innings," said Means, who once played a 17-inning game at Indiana University. "It was such a crazy game that anything was possible. We definitely did not have the attitude that we couldn't come back. If it was a regular game, maybe we would lean that way. Unfortunately, we couldn't make it an even longer game."

Thanks mostly to a pair of timely doubles by Baird and Dwayne Bailey, the 66ers scored five off o Blaze reliever Doug Salinas, the losing pitcher of record, in the top of the final frame. Means singled in the bottom half, but never got past second base.

"Even though we were up 24-19 with three outs to go, there was no sense that 'Oh, this is finally over," Gamboa said. "I have always told my all of teams, what attracted me to baseball is that all the other sports have a clock that tells you when the game ends. In baseball, as long as you have one out left, anything can happen.

"Watching [Game 6 of this year's] World Series reminded me of this game. There are certain days in baseball where you know enough isn't enough."

When all was said and done -- and a lot was -- all nine 66ers batters recorded a hit, eight of which collected multiple hits. Baird (5-for-5, two homers and five RBIs) and No. 3 Angels prospect Jean Segura (5-for-8, two RBIs) led the way.

Calling the marathon game

"The strongest memory in my mind," Blaze broadcaster Dan Besbris began, "in Bakersfield, our press box is one big room with nooks on either side but no door. You can hear each other. Guys stand up and talk in between innings, when pitchers are warming up. I just remember looking up and seing the face of [66ers] broadcaster Sam Farber. ... Dumbfounded may not be the right word, but he realized he was in for a crazy game: We were reaching the fifth inning and it was already 10:30 at night."

The club's staff printed the official scorer's box, laminated it and posted in the press box so that the record is in plain sight.

"That's as tired as my voice has ever been at the end of game," Besbris said. "At the end of it all, it was a little deflating."

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