Saturday night’s Wilmington Blue Rocks game was considered boring for the first eight innings. Well, boring for those who do not like pitcher’s duels. It got exciting quick in the bottom of the 9th inning when Cheslor Cuthbert led off the inning with a single off Lynchburg reliever Juan Jamie. He moved to second base on a wild pitch and Nick Van Stratten moved him to third base on a ground out. Van Stratten had squared to bunt but pulled back and slapped it up the middle.
The Hillcats elected to intentionally walk the next two batters to load the bases with one out. Luis Piterson hit into a force out (the out came at the plate), which brought up shortstop Orlando Calixte with two outs and the bases loaded.
The 2-2 pitch was VERY close. So close that the entire Lynchburg infield began exiting the field. The catcher triple-clutched his throw because he couldn’t believe the home plate umpire did not call the pitch a strike.
Anyway, with new life and a 3-2 pitch, Calixte took the fastball into left field, just out of reach of the diving left fielder for the game winner. While the Blue Rocks were celebrating and chasing Calixte around the field, the Hillcats coaching staff was going nuts at the umpire. I don’t blame them and I’m pretty sure any other coaching staff in baseball would have been freaking out (the pitch looked that good).
After the game, Calixte talked (through interpreter Angel Franco, the Blue Rocks utility fielder) about the game winning hit, facing a pitcher who throws so hard, how many game winning hits he has had in his career, and how he took that 2-2 pitch. He, like Pounders, was also pied in the face during the interview, but kept on going. Pounders was kind enough to wipe some of the shaving cream out of his face.
Following all the shaving cream pies, Blue Rocks manager Vance Wilson wanted to make sure he was facing the hallway just in case a pie was coming his way. He talked about the throws by Brett Eibner, the start from Pounders, his bullpen duo of Chase Boruff and Robinson Yambati, the defensive abilities of Lynchburg shortstop Nick Ahmed, and how well his team is finally playing with the playoffs about two weeks away.