A benches-clearing altercation in a wild third inning, coupled with two long rain delays in an interminable sixth, highlighted a Coral Gables Regional that had Texas Tech leading Miami 1-0 late Sunday night.
The game was called at 11:27 p.m. when a deluge hit Mark Light Field yet again and postponed the matchup until 2:02 p.m. Monday. With the University of Miami’s season on the line, it will resume with one out in the top of the eighth and UM’s Tyler Palmer at the plate.
The Red Raiders scored the game’s lone run through seven innings when UM pitcher Javi Salas hit Ryan Long with the bases loaded in the first.
Texas Tech had four hits through six, after which a second rain delay exceeding an hour interrupted any rhythm that remained. Before that, a 38-minute rain delay halted action with one out in the bottom of the inning.
The Red Raiders, 42-18 coming into the game, are aiming for their first regional championship in school history.
The Hurricanes, 42-18 after their afternoon victory against Bethune-Cookman, are trying to survive to reach the regional championship game that would begin 55 minutes after the conclusion of the postponed game.
A Texas Tech victory would seal the regional title for the Red Raiders and eliminate the Canes.
The game had enough quirkiness and excitement to keep even the most cynical of baseball watchers mesmerized.
After breaking out their bats and eliminating Bethune-Cookman 10-0 on Sunday afternoon to stay alive in the regional, the Hurricanes could only muster two third-inning hits through their first seven at-bats Sunday night.
And those hits created a bizarre scene of their own — followed by the altercation replayed repeatedly by ESPN (though the game could only be viewed online through ESPN3).
With one out in the third, UM catcher Garrett Kennedy singled up the middle, followed by a Dale Carey walk. Then the craziness began to unfold: Palmer doubled, but while Kennedy was waiting to see if the center fielder caught the ball (he didn’t), Carey — UM’s fastest player — nearly caught up with Kennedy approaching third.
With Palmer already on second, Carey couldn’t go back. But Kennedy, after rounding third, slipped and headed back to third, only to see Carey there waving him home. By that time, the relay from right fielder Adam Kirsch to second baseman Bryant Burleson to catcher Tyler Floyd had Kennedy nailed at the plate for the second out.
The third out was the charm as far as wackiness and pure bedlam.
Zack Collins, who had two home runs and five RBI in the first game, then walked to load the bases. Up came David Thompson for the third time Sunday (twice in the previous game) with the bases loaded. A grounder to short that should have ended the inning routinely turned it into craziness. After the out, Thompson collided with Red Raiders first baseman Eric Gutierrez, who flipped the ball between Thompson’s legs as he lay on the ground.
UM first-base coach Gino DiMare shouted angrily, both benches cleared and the teams came frighteningly close to a brawl.
The situation subsided, umpires conferred and Gutierrez — who came into the game hitting .310 with 12 home runs — was ejected, as were DiMare and Red Raiders assistant J-Bob Thomas. All three had to leave the premises but will return if the regional goes to a final game Monday.
After the ejections, it was back to the ballgame — until the 38-minute rain delay, followed by the 78-minute rain delay, after only four minutes of play.
Making just his fourth start of the season, Texas Tech pitcher Ryan Moseley — a freshman middle reliever and closer for most of the season — looked like a seasoned ace in the first inning, striking out Carey, Palmer and Thompson.
The Red Raiders came to bat and, after two strong defensive plays by second baseman Alex Hernandez and right fielder Willie Abreu, loaded the bases on two walks and a single by Gutierrez. Salas then hit Ryan Long with a pitch to bring home Tyler Neslony for the 1-0 Texas Tech lead.
More than four hours later, Thomas Woodrey relieved Salas in the seventh and was replaced by Cooper Hammond with two outs and runners on the corners. Hammond struck out Devon Conley to get out of the jam.