Gametime conditions: 85 degrees, 91 on the heat index, wind blowing in from left field, sunny, UV index of 10+. At 11 a.m.
By the end of the game, it might as well have been 300 degrees, 500 on the heat index, wind blowing in every which way possible and a UV index of about 76+.
Then again, after playing 17 innings, it all becomes a blur in the end.
Instead of a storybook ending for the D-Jays, it was the most unlikely of methods for the winning run to score for the Hammerheads, as Dunedin reliever Boomer Potts committed a balk with one out in the 17th inning to bring home the go-ahead run in Jupiter's 2-1 victory over the D-Jays after four hours and 39 minutes of baseball at Dunedin Stadium.
The game was tied 1-1 after five innings, and from there, it seemed as if neither team was going to push the winning run across.
That isn't to say that both teams didn't have plenty of chances. Dunedin (52-44, 11-15 2nd half) had runners at the corners with one out in the sixth but Brian Van Kirk grounded into a double play to end that threat.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Ryan Goins got to third on a Jon Talley double with two outs to represent the winning run, but Mark Sobolewski grounded out to third base to send the game to extras.
In the 13th inning, Dunedin had runners at first and second with one away and the heart of their order coming up, but Van Kirk struck out looking after a d'Arnaud intentional walk and Talley struck out swinging to end the threat.
In the 15th, the Hammerheads looked like they had broken through. Synan and Ben Lasater both singled with two away, and then after Potts (3-1) replaced Evan Crawford on the hill, Ernesto Manzanillo singled through the hole on the left side.
Synan was given the go-ahead coming around third, but Van Kirk threw a one-hopper to the plate right on the money to get Synan by the length of his cleat to keep the game tied.
While neither team could figure out each other for 11 innings, the backbreaking 17th inning came right on schedule for Jupiter (31-62, 9-16).
With one out, Kevin Mattison hit a long fly ball down the right field line. Welinton Ramirez gave chase and it flicked off his glove as he got to the foul line, making it a live ball and allowing Mattison to go all the way to third base for the game's only triple.
It was then that fate somehow intervened for the Hammerheads, as once Potts gathered himself on the mound before coming set, the ball slipped out of his bare hand and to the ground for a balk, bringing Mattison home to make it 2-1.
Potts recovered and got Gran to fly out and Synan to strike out looking, but Dunedin would need to dig deep after four and a half hours in the blistering Florida heat to try and stay in this game.
Ryan Tucker came in to try and close things down for Jupiter, but had trouble finding the plate against Jon Del Campo, walking him on a full count. Ramirez then drew a walk to put the go-ahead run aboard with nobody out.
This brought Mike McDade to the plate, who entered the game in the 10th inning as a pinch-hitter for starter Justin McClanahan. Although he was hitless to this point in the game, McDade has been Dunedin's best offensive player this season and there was no better player to have up in that position for the D-Jays.
Tucker did get ahead of McDade and induce a long fly ball to center field for the first out, but it was what happened next that might have closed Dunedin's door of opportunity prematurely.
Del Campo tagged from second and headed to third as Mattison made his throw in from center field, but Ramirez also tagged up from first base, thinking Mattison's throw would be heading to third.
Todd Muecklisch, a recent Gulf Coast League call-up at shortstop, cut off Mattison's throw and hurried a throw to second, just beating Ramirez to the bag for the inning's crucial second out.
That play meant that Bradley McElroy had to come up with a clutch base hit to send the game to an unfathomable 18th inning, but he grounded out to Seth Fortenberry at first base, who flipped it to Tucker covering the bag for the final out as he barely beat McElroy down the line.
It was Tucker's second save of the season for Jupiter.
The final numbers tell a tale of offensive futility and missed opportunities for both sides. As a team, the D-Jays struck out 20 times in 56 at-bats while Jupiter struck out 17 times in 60.
As a team, Jupiter was 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 13 aboard while Dunedin went only 1-for-15 and stranded 12 runners themselves.
Six players had at least three strikeouts each, with Jupiter's Synan having the worst day of all, going 1-for-7 and striking out five times. Fortenberry struck out four times as he went 1-for-7, as well. Lasater, meanwhile, had a great day at the plate, going 4-for-7, but even he couldn't avoid the strikeout, going down three times himself.
Mattison and Gran were the only players for Jupiter not to strikeout in the game.
Meanwhile, it wasn't the best day for any Dunedin hitters. The D-Jays could only scrap up five hits and had only one hit in any of the extra innings, a 10th inning double by Ramirez.
Each offensive player had a strikeout, with McElroy, d'Arnaud and Van Kirk each taking a hat trick. Talley's 2-for-7 effort was the only multi-hit line in Dunedin's box score.
On the pitching end of things, everyone had a good deal of success, even with a mistake here or there.
Jupiter starter Joseph O'Gara pitched very well for six innings, allowing the one run on three hits while walking one and striking out a season-high four. The sinkerballer coerced 11 groundouts, as well.
On the other side, Dunedin strikeout king Joel Carreno had another stellar outing, allowing one run on five hits through seven innings. He struck out nine more batters and walked none, bringing his season strikeout total to 135, which leads the FSL for the time being and is now 3rd best in all of Minor League Baseball.
No Jupiter reliever gave up a run and four of five relievers didn't even allow a hit. Jeff Gogal, Corey Madden and Peter Andrelczyk each pitched two shutout innings, but the real story became Graham Johnson (2-11), who entered the game in the 13th inning.
A starter who had problems all season long, Johnson has worked out of the bullpen against Dunedin this series and has won both decisions he's been involved in. Although he walked three in his four innings of work, he didn't allow a base runner past second base and also struck out three.
For Dunedin's relievers, Dan DeLucia, Dumas Garcia and Crawford all threw shutout sessions as well. DeLucia went two innings, Garcia went three, and Crawford went 2 2/3 innings.
Underscoring all the mayhem on the field were the conditions the two teams played in. While rain had been a normal adversary for both teams in the series, causing a shortened game on Sunday and a delay on Monday, it was the sweltering heat that got to them on Wednesday, as temperatures during play soared above 90 degrees and the heat index towards 100 with humidity over 60% percent.
It should be pointed out that both catchers, Talley for Dunedin and Miguel Fermin for Jupiter, caught all 17 innings. Should Talley have needed to come out of the game for any reason, the other D-Jays catcher, d'Arnaud would have had to move from designated hitter to catcher, meaning that Dunedin would lose the DH and have the pitcher hit for the rest of the game.
The umpires weren't immune to the craziness of the game, either, as home plate umpire Ian Fazio was hit twice by a baseball, once in the side of his foot that saw him limp around for a minute before staying in the game to finish it out.
Strangely enough, the 17 innings played on Wednesday wasn't even the longest game played in the FSL this season, and the game that was longer than it preceded the contest by only two days. The Daytona Cubs and Charlotte Stone Crabs faced off in a 19-inning marathon in Port Charlotte on Monday, July 19.
That game lasted five hours and 13 minutes and saw the Cubs squeak out a victory, 4-3. This came after Charlotte tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extra innings.
While the fact that it was an early game did give the teams a little bit of time to rest up before their next series, Dunedin will now take the road for four games beginning Thursday night in Bradenton.
The D-Jays will take on the Marauders at 7 p.m. in the series opener, as southpaw Ryan Page gets the start for Dunedin.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.