Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Flyers battle full moon for win

Maybe it was the full moon.

After a nearly four-hour marathon rife with confusion, shaky officiating, a schizophrenic scoreboard and a lineup card blunder, Orange County Flyers wrapped up a three-game sweep over the Long Beach Armada, 10-9, Wednesday night at Blair Field. The Flyers improved to a Golden Baseball League leading 14-6 record. They have now won their last seven games, including 11 of their last 12.

This game began to develop an eyebrow-raising theme as a full moon set in, however no credible horoscope could have predicted the ensuing confusion. In the bottom of the third with the Armada holding a 2-1 lead, Long Beach’s DH Chris Wakeland opened the inning by blasting a shot to deep left field just inches shy of clearing the wall. The ball bounced on top of the wall and came back into the field, never actually leaving the ballpark. The umpires ruled it a homerun for Wakeland, which brought Flyers manager Garry Templeton out for the first of the games many discussions.

Long Beach (10-10) scored three in the bottom of the third to open at 5-1 lead. Scott Goodman jump-started the Flyers offense to lead off the fourth inning with a solo homerun off the scoreboard in right-center field. The Flyers used a three-run fourth to get back into the game. Goodman finished the night 2-3 with 3 RBI.

With the game tied 5-5 heading into the sixth inning, David Bacani and Garry Templeton II reached on consecutive walks. Flyers DH Rich Pohle singled to score Bacani and move Templeton to second, setting up Peanut Williams for what would turn into an eventful at-bat. Williams struck out looking as both Templeton and Pohle began running for third and second, respectively. Long Beach catcher Cole Cicateli threw the ball into left field trying to catch Templeton at third.

As Templeton broke for home and Pohle for third, the focus shifted to the batter’s circle, where home plate umpire Jeff Cisneros tossed the 2006 GBL MVP Williams for arguing the called third strike, taking Cisneros’ attention away from the play. Armada manager Darrell Evans then emerged from the home dugout to argue interference on Williams.

The game settled down until the seventh inning, where the only thing more unclear than the umpires was the scoreboard, which at one point displayed a football-like score of Flyers 17, Armada 31. Aaron Davis stepped up to the plate in the top of the seventh with one out and Hector Zamora on first. Davis tapped a ball in front of the plate, and Cicateli made the routine fielder’s choice throw to second for the force out on Zamora. Davis ran down the first base line, stepped on first and veered off into foul territory before the next at bat. Armada pitcher Sean Buller then threw the ball to first base, where Jason Mooneyham tagged Davis in foul territory for the final out of the frame. The umpires ruled Davis had vacated first, however, Davis – the league’s leading hitter – never made an aggressive move toward second.

The moon played tricks on the Armada’s compass in the bottom of the eighth when Dan Trumble stepped in to bat for Jorge Araiza. With no one out and Armada second baseman Kirk Gross on first, Trumble popped up to shallow right field. The ball dropped, but Bacani quickly slung the ball to second for the force out. Templeton then came out to protest Trumble’s at-bat, arguing he was not on the lineup card for this game. Trumble was ruled out, prompting Evans to come out of the dugout and argue the call. The inning ended one batter later when Long Beach’s John Kaplan grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.

The Armada made a charge in the bottom of the ninth down 10-7, when Jaime Martinez crushed a two-run homerun through the thick Long Beach sky, pulling the fleet within one run before Dave Coggin retired the next two batters to secure the win.

After battling the full moon and all her mischief, the Flyers hit the road for four games against second-place Chico to wrap up the week. Orange County is 2-0 against the Outlaws on the season. Thursday’s first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

The games can be heard live on 1370 KWRM and at

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