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Neil Medchill had an eventful professional debut on a soggy Sunday afternoon. The Staten Island Yankees leftfielder not only hit his first career home run, a solo blast in the second inning, he also sat through three rain delays at KeySpan Park before umpires called the game after 5 ½ innings.
The Baby Bombers fell to 0-2 on the season, losing the game, 5-2, to the rival Cyclones. But as he was leaving Coney Island, Medchill figured others at the ballpark had a more difficult day.
“That was by far the most rain delays that I had,” he said. “I know the field crew had a rough day today. They pulled that tarp a lot of times. Too bad we couldn’t finish it up.”
The scheduled 5 p.m. game didn’t start until 5:20 p.m. because of pre-game rain. It would be a sign of things to come.
The tarp was brought back on the field one pitch into Medchill’s first professional at-bat in the top of the second inning. Some 25 minutes later, the Yankees leftfielder belted his first home run, a solo shot over the wall in right.
Cyclones pitcher Mark Cohoon then served up another home run, a mammoth solo blast to left-center field by Kelvin Castro.
“Anytime you get cold and try to get warm again, it’s tough to stay in the game,” said Cohoon, who earned the win in five innings.
“We owe it to the fans to keep trying to play,” Cyclones first baseman Sam Honeck said.
The game was delayed a second time, between the fifth and sixth innings, for 32 minutes. Cyclones reliever Sam Martinez put the Baby Bombers down in order in the top of the sixth when the tarp was brought out again. The teams went through a final 32-minute delay before the umpires finally called the game in the middle of the sixth inning.
“It was crazy,” Cyclones manager Pedro Lopez said. “I wish we could’ve played the whole game. But you can’t control the rain. I’m just glad we played well through six innings to get the win.”
Neither manager was comfortable with Cyclones centerfielder Seth Williams slipping when he caught Medchill’s flyout in the top of the sixth inning.
“Personally I didn’t like the way the centerfielder caught that last ball when he slipped,” Baby Bombers manager Josh Paul said. “It’s more important for me to take care of the players than worry about playing the last three or four innings. Nobody’s health is worth winning a game like that.”
Added Lopez: “I told (Josh Paul), I’m on top, I don’t want to be the one to win (a shortened game). But I don’t want anybody to get hurt. If it’s not playable, I’m not putting my guys on the field.”
Finally, at 8:35 p.m., umpires put an end to the game. By that point only a few brave souls remained in the stands. Most of the 8,696 who purchased tickets had already left for drier pastures. When all was said and done, the teams played one hour and 45 minutes of baseball, just one minute more than the combined delays.
“We really wanted to get the game in, both teams,” Cohoon said. “Nobody wanted to stop playing.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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