Play at home

Boston wins exhausting game 12-5

Altoona's protests are not upheld

By Brian Varmecky

  Boston 12 - 5 Altoona  Team Logo

    1 2 3   4 5 6   7 8 9   R H E
Boston   0 0 3   0 2 4   0 3 0   12 14 0
Altoona   0 1 3   0 0 0   0 1 0   5 10 1

Boston eliminated Altoona in a grueling 3 hour 58 minute game in the hot, afternoon sun at Point Stadium. The win advanced Boston to the national championship against New Orleans. The championship game was scheduled to begin at 4 o'clock on Sunday, but was postponed until 6:30pm due to the length of the first game and an official protest from the Altoona team.

Altoona protests denied

The first Altoona protest was from the fifth inning with Lionel Danielson stole home and collided with catcher Brett Hileman. Danielson did not slide, but rather ran through the bag, similar to a play he had made against Johnstown two nights before. Hileman was laid on the ground for several minutes, but eventually sat up with help and was taken from the game in an ambulance. Reports from Eric Knopsnyder for the Tribune Democrat say that his CAT scan was negative although he did receive stitches. Altoona protested that Danielson should have been ejected. The second Altoona protest is from the eighth inning when Boston apparently made an illegal substitution for the designated hitter. Both protests were denied.

According to taht same Tribune Democrat article, Altoona manager Rick Westover says that had the protests been upheld, Altoona would have forfeited the game to let Boston play in the championship.

Game was very competitive early on

Altoona took a 1-0 lead in the first. Adam Polites was hit by a pitch, reach second on a wild pitch, third on John Servello's fly out to center, and scored on another wild pitch from Boston starter Adam Woodhead.

The teams exchanged the lead in the third as both clubs scored 3 times. Boston led off with Cruz Santana's double to centerfield, followed by a pair of bunts from Sean Webster and Frankely Gonzalez that scored Santana. Miguel Lorenzo's sacrifice bunt put the runners in scoring position, which allowed Webster to score on a balk. Nick Powers grounded out to second base which brought in Gonzalez.

For Altoona, catcher Brett Hileman was hit by a pitch and advanced on a wild pitch. Cy Treaster singled to left to move Hileman to third. Eric Grace sent the first pitch he saw past the short stop to score Hileman. With two outs, Polites flew the ball over a leaping secondbaseman Santana to score Grace from second. Justin Sleigh finally singled to right to score Polites and give Altoona the lead.

Astros regain the lead and Hileman injured

Boston turned a double play in the fourth to erase Ethan Lewis' lead off single for Altoona, and then took back the lead in the fifth. Starter Pete Schaefer issued a hit batsman, wild pitch, and walk put Lorenzo and Powers at the corners with no outs. Corey Storm was brought in to pitch, but also issued a walk and then hit Jamel Vilmont to tie the game. With the bases still loaded, Powers scored as Altoona turned a 6-3 double play.

With Sam Steeves at the plate, Lionel Danielson stole home and collided with catcher Hileman. Danielson was ruled out but Hileman was visibly shaken although responsive and was removed from the game on a stretcher. The incident took even more energy out of the game, which had already been moving slowly in the sweltering heat. Cy Treaster would catch for the remainder of the game, while Josh Serafin entered the game in left.

Boston takes control of the game

The Astros took control of the game with a four run sixth. Altoona reliever Kane McCall struck out Steeves, but then allowed a double to Santana, single to Webster, and a 2-run single to Gonzalez. Both Lorenzo and Danielson were hit by pitches to load the bases, and Vilmont was hit by a pitch to score a run. New pitcher Ben Foose walked in another run before retiring the side with a pop out to right, stranding three. Boston's Jovan Henriquez--who took the mound in the third inning--allowed a hit and hit a batter, but got three ground ball outs to the left side to maintain his team's lead.

After a quiet seventh, the Astros added three more in the eighth after three lead-off singles from Lorenzo, Powers, and Danielson. A ground out and wild pitch scores the other two runs. Wise Trailers added a fifth run as Sleigh led off with a single and scored after a pass ball, Lewis single, and fielder's choice at second.

A tiring day for players and fans

The ninth inning featured the second Altoona protest and several walks, but will mostly be remember for finally ending the most exhausting game of the tournament. Boston had the unenviable task of turning around and playing New Orleans for the championship a mere 90 minutes later. Although the contest started with high energy and teams swapping the lead, it was also moving at a slow pace and was eventually interupted by injuries and protests. Once Boston was in the lead in the fifth, an Altoona comeback seemed unlikely, but Boston could not manage enough runs for a mercy rule.

Winning in the national tournament requires a deep pitching staff, and the Boston and Altoona sides were showing signs of fatigue. Boston walked 7, threw 5 wild pitches, and hit 3 batsmen. Altoona walked 8, threw 2 wild pitches, and hit 6 batsmen. Not to mention the 24 combined hits in the game.

Although Altoona failed to reach the championship game, their 4-2 finished was an improvement on last year's 3-2 mark and is only their 3rd time as a franchise to win four games.

 

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