Ok, I’m a lousy Mets fan. I talked about rooting for them to be spoilers in the NL East, and then I didn’t even watch the game. I was going to, I swear!
But a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time invited me out to watch the Newark Bears, and that seemed just a little more important.
The Bears and the Somerset Patriots seemed fairly evenly matched, so the game stayed pretty close most of the way. I was more focused on catching up than I was on the on-field action, so I won’t try to offer up a detailed recap for the first 8 1/2 innings.
Patriots third baseman Jeff Nettles can still make some nice plays at third, DH Josh Pressley can still hit the ball a long way and the umpires were not willing to put up with much. (We had two player ejections, one from each side.)
The second ejection annoyed me a bit. With a four-run lead in the ninth, Somerset second baseman Matt Hagen led a double steal and was called out at third base. The ump missed the call – the ball beat Hagen to the bag, but Newark third baseman Eric Munson did not tag him in time.
Hagen was livid and argued the call after throwing his helmet to the ground. His manager had to come out and lead him away, and he only reluctantly left the field. At the time, I couldn’t believe he would argue so much when his team had a seemingly insurmountable lead… I was annoyed that he was even trying to steal.
Well, maybe he knew something that I didn’t.
After Carl Everett struck out to start the ninth inning, Munson hit a long home run to right field. I applauded, because I was happy to see another run on the board. I didn’t think anything would come of it.
Backup catcher Isiah Kaaihue, forced to play left field when Gabe Suarez was ejected, grounded out to shortstop for the second out. Randy Gress walked, but it seemed like a delay to the inevitable. Pablo Ozuna came up next and hit a line drive to center field that should have ended the game… except it didn’t. The ball clanked off center fielder Wayne Lydon’s glove and suddenly the Bears had new life.
Sparky Lyle brought in a left-hander to face Kennard Jones, who’s arguably been the Bears’ best player in 2010. One little problem with that plan — Andrew Dobies couldn’t throw strikes. He walked Jones and Brian Barton, with the later walk forcing in a run.
Lyle, now with real reason for worry, went back to the bullpen. He called on righty Jerry Dunn to pitch to Daryle Ward with the bases loaded. Ward worked the count in his favor, then hit the 2-1 pitch to deep center field. I wasn’t sure that it went out of the ballpark at first, but I knew the Bears had won when Lydon slipped as he went back to the fence.
It was a walk-off grand slam!
It was the most exciting Bears win I’ve seen in a long time.