Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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July 8, 2014

Rain prevents Princeton from possible move into first-place tie

PRINCETON — The Princeton Rays and their fans had to put the brooms back into the closet.

After winning the first two games of their three-game series against the Appalachian League East Division leading Danville Braves, Mother Nature brought forth her fury on Hunnicutt Field and forced a suspension of the contest.

A Princeton win would have moved the Rays into first tied with Danville and possibly Pulaski, if both Pulaski and Princeton were victorious on Tuesday.

The game, halted in the top of the fourth inning, will be resumed when the Braves next visit Hunnicutt Field on Aug. 24. The regularly scheduled game for that day will follow and will be a seven inning affair. When play resumes the Braves will have a runner on first, with no outs and a 1-0 lead.

Hyrum Formo started on the mound for Princeton and retired Danville on a handful of pitches in the first. In the second he allowed a single to Jose Morel.

Danville’s Max Povse likewise sat down his opponent 1-2-3 in the first and in the second Angel Moreno got the Rays first hit, a single up the middle. Moreno was erased, however on a double play when Nick Ciuffo popped out in foul territory to the third baseman and Moreno, running on the pitch, was doubled off first.

Danville reached Formo in the third. Fernelys Sanchez had a leadoff double and moved to third on Yeudi Grullon’s sacrifice bunt. He later scored on Omar Obregon’s sacrifice fly to center with the game’s only run.

Povse faced the minimum number of batters through the first three innings as he sat the Rays down in order in the third as the rain grew stronger and at times it appeared as if hailstones were falling to the turf at Hunnicutt Field.

Tanner Krietemeier got aboard on an infield single to short and he would be the last batter before the umpires sent the teams off the field and the tarp was pulled at 8:05.

The game began 10 minutes late due to a downpour earlier in the afternoon. After waiting for nearly an hour it was decided the game would be suspended and resumed at a later date.

The Rays came into the game riding a two game winning streak and winners in seven of their last 10 games. They stood one game behind Danville with a 10-8 record, tied with Pulaski for second place.

Rays manager Danny Sheaffer talked about this year’s Princeton team.

“We’ve got a very young, exciting team. We’re going to make exciting mistakes and hopefully at the end of the year we stay competitive,” Sheaffer said. “It’s a fun group and with this kind of athleticism we’ll end up winning some games in this league that we didn’t last year. It’s an exciting group, it’s fun to manage.”

Sheaffer continued, “I think it’s a combination of athleticism, attitude and youth, and I emphasize youth because you expect guys that are mature to be able to do the right thing and hustle and have a drive to play the game, that are mature, I’m talking about AA and AAA guys because the major leagues are closer. As far as our group of guys are away from the major leagues, they still play with a zeal and a passion to get better. It’s fun to see, especially from a young player and we’ve got a lot of them.”

While competitiveness dictates that the game could or should continue, Sheaffer explained what went on in discussions with the umpires and Danville manager Randy Ingle prior to the announcement that the contest was suspended.

“I think we lost three mounds and once that clay gets wet, it’s history. I think the time that it would have taken to drain the field, to get all the water off, we already had a saturated field, it would have put a lot of water in left field and realistically we were looking at probably a 10:30 start time which is probably not healthy for anything,” Sheaffer said.

“You never want to use the excuse, ‘Somebody may get hurt,’ but they might. We were already out of a starter, they were out of a starter and they come back here which is key. We’ll play a doubleheader in August.”

The Rays open a three-game series tonight in Burlington. They return home Saturday night to host Bluefield in round two of the 2014 Mercer Cup series.

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