East County Sports

Stars suspended, yet win anyway

By Nick Pellegrino
Special to East County Sports

CHULA VISTA (7-21-2017) – Eight innings of ragged baseball meant time was running out on the San Diego Stars to remain in playoff contention in the South Division race in the Western Baseball Association.

Yet somehow, this longtime West Coast power in the National Baseball Congress seems to be able to overcome more than most summer collegiate and semipro ballclubs.
On Thursday (July 20), the Stars pulled-off a pair of miraculous feats in the 9th inning, salvaging an 8-8 deadlock in a contest suspended by darkness. San Diego first posted five runs to move even, then escaped a bases-loaded, no out jam to force the contest with the last-place Mavericks to be continued in a (near-) future date.
Or will it?
While members of the Stars thought out loud that Sunday’s rematch with the Mavs would take place prior to Sunday’s scheduled summer season finale, the ballclub received good news on two fronts.
Instead of a continuation, the Mavericks covertly took Stars owner/ field manager Mickey Deutschman that they would forfeit the ballgame. According to MLB American League rules, when a team fails to field nine players, it must forfeit.
Fans saw a Mavericks baserunner pull a hamstring at first base, forcing him off the field. Since the Mavs had run out of substitutes, they quietly asked to continue the action by re-entering a player — a common rule in amateur baseball, but not here.
“It was very professional of the Mavericks to agree to forfeit,” noted Deutschman. “In light of all the recent forfeits by teams not showing up for whatever circumstance, the Mavericks wanted to be fair to of our teams and take away from a close pennant race.”
In addition, the victory gave the Stars (20-7) their 20th win of the season, reaching the magical plateau for the 22nd time over the past 25 years.
The momentum shift came in the 8th when Stars left fielder Ryan Culp nailed a Mavs runner attempting to stretch a single into a double. The rally-killing throw left the hosts with just a single run and an 8-3 cushion.
However, the Stars, limited to just six base hits entering the 9th, received their wake-up call and sent 11 batters to the plate in the 9th.
Eric De La Rosa accepted a lead walk, promptly scoring on a Dallas Seidel double. Johnny Valdez walked, then Joey Krug singled home Seidel to make it 8-5.
Following a fielder’s choice, Jose Alexander beat out a chopper toward third base for an infield single to load the bases, Walks to Culp, Shawn Knutson and De La Rosa forced home the tying runs.
The Mavericks were on the precipice of the upset victory when the frame’s first pitch hit the batter, who later moved to third on a stolen base and a throwing error. So Deutschman rolled the dice with a pair of intentional walks, moving both sides of his defense in to cut down any runner headed home.
Krug grabbed a grounder at third base and fired home for the first out. Relief pitcher Jonathan Barr then registered a strikeout and a grounder to second base to complete regulation play, with extra innings postponed by the setting sun.
Little did the Stars players know they already had the milestone triumph in their pocket.

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