Call it good timing for Bluefield.
A steady rain got much harder in the bottom of the eighth inning and may have led to three errors for Danville, and another Appalachian League victory for the Blue Jays on a rainy fall-like Wednesday night in front of an announced, but largely missing audience of 522, at Bowen Field.
Bluefield (26-13) scored four runs with the help of those fielding miscues in the eighth, and defeated the Braves 7-2 in a rain-shortened contest that was called with one out in the bottom of that frame.
The teams were called off the field at 9:48 p.m., and the game was called 34 minutes later, giving the Blue Jays a second straight win over the Braves with a three-game series on tap beginning tonight in Elizabethton.
“They played us well here, I think we only beat them one out of three,” Bluefield manager Dennis Holmberg said. “They are always the team to beat, Danville is always the team to beat per se.
“We are looking forward to going on the road. Then, of course, coming back home against Princeton, batten down the hatches.”
Bluefield had taken a 3-2 run lead in the bottom of the seventh when Matt Dean reached on an infield single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jonathan Davis, ran to third on a wild pitch by Richie Tate and scored when pinch-hitter John Silviano hit a high chopper that deflected off Tate’s glove.
“The guy on the mound, he must have been 6-foot-4, and it just hit just right off the top of his glove,” Holmberg said.
A steady rain fell for much of the game, but finally poured in the bottom of the eighth. Tim Locastro started the frame with a high pop-up off reliever Ryan Gunther that Danville shortstop Johan Camargo allowed to drop for a two-base error. Nico Taylor followed with a hard ground ball that was booted by Mikey Reynolds at second.
Danville (19-18) made ‘web gems’ all night long, including a diving catch by each of the outfielders, and a tremendous running catch by Reynolds in foul territory, in which he turned and threw a strike to the plate to catch speedy D.J. Davis trying to score in the sixth.
In fact, Bluefield didn’t get its first hits off Danville starter Jared Dettmann until the fifth when Matt Dean and Jonathan Davis connected for consecutive doubles to right field to tie the score at 1-1.
“They made some great catches in the outfield in the early part of the game,” Holmberg said. “We started kind of slow one and a half times through the lineup and then we put together some pretty good at-bats,
“It was back and forth a little bit. It was 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, 3-2, and then I think the weather factored in.”
With runners on first and third by virtue of errors, Mitch Nay followed with a sinking line drive to left field that was caught by a sliding Justin Black. Locastro tagged up at third and scored and Taylor moved to second, but Danville manager Jonathan Schuerholz thought both had left early on the play.
“I didn’t think Timmy left early, he went back and tagged, the guy dove, he caught the ball and he broke,” Holmberg said. “I wasn’t watching Nico, but Nico said he went back and tagged and on a ball like that usually you are halfway and if he makes the catch you are coming back.
“The ‘prophet,’ (first base coach) Ken Huckaby, was yelling to come him to come back and ‘tag, tag, tag’ and he did. The throw went home and he went to second, good base-running.”
Schuerholz argued the play, returned to the dugout, and had Gunther do the appeal play to first. Taylor was called safe and Schuerholz returned to the field and was promptly tossed from the game.
Dawel Lugo followed with an run-scoring triple, Dean added an RBI double — which, in reality, was an infield pop-up that no one caught near the mound — and Jonathan Davis hit a drive to left field that was played into a double by Black, with an error allowing him to reach third.
“Obviously the weather factored in with them on defense, it could have very easily been us.” Holmberg said. “Whether we catch the balls in the hard rain or we don’t, that is a tough conditions, either side, it is not where you want to be.
“Fortunately we were hitting and they were in the field and they had to try and defend the ball.”
Jorge Saez then followed with a foul pop that was dropped by Danville catcher Carlos Sanchez, prompting the umpires to call for a delay, which lasted 34 minutes before the game was called.
Bluefield out-hit Danville 9-6, led by Dean, who had three hits, including two doubles and scored two runs. Jonathan Davis had two doubles and two RBIs, while Locastro scored two runs and Nay had two RBIs, including on an RBI double in the sixth that scored Locastro, who had reached on an infield single for the 2-1 lead.
Camargo led the Braves with two hits, including a double in the fifth off reliever Joe Lovecchio and scored on a Reynolds single for the 1-0 lead. The Braves other run came in the seventh when Black reached on an infield single and scored on a bad hop ground ball that bounced off Locastro’s shoulder at second base to tie the score at 2-2.
Tazewell native Zak Wasilewski worked the first four innings, allowing one hit, striking out five and walking five on a mound that needed attention throughout the game.
Lovecchio picked up the win, improving to 3-1, while Yeyfry Del Rosario pitched the eighth for his second save. Tate dropped to 2-1.
Holmberg acknowledged that the weather may have played a significant role in the outcome, and was just glad the Blue Jays were batting in the eighth when the rain came down the hardest throughout the night.
“It is a game of runs, Danville is a good ball club, I think the weather started to factor in,” he said. “”Could they have called it earlier and stopped play? Perhaps, but you are trying to get the nine in.
“I am quite sure if they hadn’t stopped it when they did, the thinking would be ‘they played in it, hey, they have to go out and play in it’ and then it might have been me that was (complaining).”
—Contact Brian Woodson
at Bowen Field
Danville..................000 010 10x — 2 6 3
Bluefield................000 011 14x — 7 10 1
Game called by rain with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Jared Dettmann, Richie Tate (6), Ryan Gunther (8) and Carlos Sanchez. Zak Wasilewski, Joe Lovecchio (5), Yeyfry Del Rosario (8) and Jorge Saez. W—Lovecchio (3-1); L—Tate (2-1); S—Del Rosario (2). HR—none. Weather delay—34 minutes. Att—522.