SALISBURY, MD - Only an Act of God could stop baseball on Thursday night at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium. With a patented Eastern Shore pop-up storm arrived, the game between the Delmarva Shorebirds and Lexington Legends was suspended after 20 complete innings tied at 6-6.
The resumption of the game in the top of the 21st is scheduled for Friday night at 6:05 p.m. Gates for the resumption will open at 5:00 p.m. The regularly scheduled Friday night game between the Shorebirds and Legends will begin approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the suspended game and will be a seven inning contest.
The Shorebirds had the chance to win it in the bottom of the 20th. With two outs and nobody on, Ryan McKenna clubbed a flyball to deep right center that one-hopped over the wall for a ground-rule double. Stuart Levy then drew a walk, and McKenna advanced to third base on a ball four wild pitch. On a 1-2 from Vance Tatum, with the wind whipping at the Legends lefty and lightning crackling overhead, Cole Billingsley hit a grounder deep to second, where Gabriel Cancel threw him out at first by a step. The game went into delay at 12:55 a.m., 5:51 after its 7:04 p.m. start time, and was officially suspended 12 minutes later at 1:07 a.m.
Whenever the game is finished, it will go down as the longest game in the 22-year, 3,002-game history of the Delmarva Shorebirds. The Shorebirds have twice played 19 innings, losing 4-3 to the Piedmont Boll Weevils on July 24, 2000, and defeating the West Virginia Power 5-4 on May 27, 2011. In terms of time, the 19-inning game in 2000 lasted 6:13; the resumption would have to go at least 23 minutes to best that mark.
The game will also go down as the longest in the South Atlantic League this season and one of the longest in the history of Minor League Baseball. The longest game in all of professional baseball was a 33-inning contest between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings in 1981. The Red Sox defeated the Red Wings - who were an Orioles affilate at the time and boasted Cal Ripken, Jr. in the lineup - 3-2 in a game that began on April 18 and concluded on June 23. Dave Koza hit the walk-off single in the bottom of the 33rd to win it for Pawtucket.
The Legends took their first lead of the game in the top of the second inning. Emmanuel Rivera and Cancel belted back-to-back leadoff doubles to plate a run, and three batters later Luis Villegas singled to left to bring home Cancel and make it 2-0.
The Shorebirds came back to tie it in the bottom of the fourth. Collin Woody led off with a triple and scored two batters later on a Frank Crinella RBI groundout to second. McKenna, Levy, and Billingsley then scrapped together three singles in a row, and Chris Clare took a pitch off the foot to force in McKenna and tie it 2-2.
Lexington got some help from sloppy Delmarva defense in the top of the fifth. Villegas and Marten Gasparini led off with back-to-back walks, and Yeison Melo hit a single to right. The ball got by right fielder Jake Ring and all the way to the wall, allowing Villegas and Gasparini to score. Melo raced for third, and the throw from relay man Clare sailed into the third base dugout, chasing Melo home to make it 5-2.
Delmarva didn't wait long to get those runs back. Preston Palmeiro took the first pitch of the bottom of the fifth off the ribs, and Collin Woody tagged a double down the left field line to bring him around. Milton Ramos followed with a routine flyball to right, but the ball landed some five feet to the left of Melo, who then kicked the ball into foul ground in pursuit. Woody scored and Ramos made it to third on what went down as an RBI double and an error. After a pair of groundouts, Levy laced a grounder down the left field line for another double, scoring Ramos to tie it at 5-5.
The visitors inched in front again in the top of the seventh as Angelo Castellano cracked a line drive off the left field foul pole for a two-out solo home run to make it 6-5.
In the bottom of the ninth, Palmeiro fouled the first pitch down the third base line, but Castellano dropped the popup for an error. Palmeiro made the most of the second chance, rolling a single into right. Woody bunted Palmeiro up to second, then after a strikeout, Alejandro Juvier came up as a pinch hitter and slashed the first pitch into left. Gasparini's throw was up the line and Palmeiro raced around to score, tying the game for a third time at 6-6 and forcing extra innings.
Through the first 20 innings, the two teams combined for 33 hits - with just nine coming in the 11 extra frames - and 49 strikeouts. The sides went a collective 7-for-39 with men in scoring position and stranded 30 men on base. Pitchers made 587 pitches to 162 batters on the night.
Both starting pitchers were out after five innings on a night that saw first pitch in 90 degree heat. The Shorebirds' Zach Muckenhirn allowed five runs (three earned) on five hits, walking two and striking out six. The Legends' Andre Davis surrendered five runs on 10 hits, walking one and striking out four.
The bullpens became stars of the show in extras. For Delmarva, Francisco Jimenez gave up a run in three innings of initial relief for Muckenhirn. Jake Bray handled the ninth and 10th in scoreless one-hit fashion, striking out four. Steven Klimek fanned five and gave up three hits in the 11th through 13th, while Matt Trowbridge held Lexington to one hit and struck out five more in the next three innings. Kory Groves finished off the night with four scoreless, allowing two hits and walking one while striking down four, including Villegas swinging to end the 20th.
For Lexington, Matthew Wynne appeared to be in line for the win with two scoreless innings in relief of Davis. Kevin Lenik gave up the unearned run to tie it in the ninth; he lasted through the 10th. Justin Camp and Vance Tatum each went five innings in relief in extras. Camp struck out eight and didn't give up a hit, while Tatum got whiffs on eight while giving up two hits.
Billingsley and Ramos had three-hit nights for Delmarva, while Palmeiro, Woody, McKenna, and Levy each had two. Levy caught all 20 innings.
For Lexington, Garcia went 4-for-8 with a pair of doubles and a run. Khalil Lee finished at 1-for-8 with seven strikeouts. Villegas matched Levy by catching all 20 frames.
Legends right fielder Rudy Martin left the game in the bottom of the third after colliding with second baseman Cancel on a flyball to shallow left. Melo replaced him in right field.
After the conclusion of the first game, Friday night's full game features a pitching matchup of Delmarva's Matthias Dietz (1-7, 5.06) and Lexington's Anthony Bender (2-2, 5.04). The scheduled Vintage Manny Machado bobblehead giveaway presented by Perdue Foods will begin when gates open for the resumption at 5:00 p.m. Friday night is also Orange Friday at Perdue Stadium, as well as Froggy 99.9 Big Beer Friday, featuring 32oz drafts of Miller Lite and Coors Light for $6. Pregame coverage of the historic resumption on Fox Sports AM 960 and the MiLB First Pitch app begins at 5:50 p.m. with Will DeBoer on the call.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.