My number nine top Blue Rocks moment is…
The 21 inning game versus Danville in 1998.
It was another hot summer July, Sunday afternoon game in Wilmington back in 1998. I did not stay for the entire game because I was working and told to clock out because of the lack of fans in attendance. I did however listen to the game on the half hour ride home.
The fact that the game lasted 21 innings was impressive enough. It took six hours and 23 minutes to finish the 3-2 Blue Rocks victory over the Danville 97′s. Geoffrey Tomlinson walked with the bases loaded for the walk off win. At that time, it was the longest game in both Blue Rocks and the Carolina League’s history.
Thirteen total pitchers allowed 32 hits and 13 walks, but they combined to strike out 39 and strand 19 baserunners. Danville tied the game in the top of the ninth and the two teams then played 11 scoreless innings.
The 19th inning was what made the game memorable. Five Blue Rocks were ejected in that inning: shortstop Brett Taft, pitcher Ethan Stein, catcher Dave Ullery, pitching coach Steve Crawford, and manager Darrell Evans. It was shocking considering the three players tossed were very mild-mannered on a normal occasion. After being tossed, they quickly showered and sat in the stands behind home plate, heckling the umpires (which could be heard on the radio broadcast).
Thankfully, reliever Justin Lamber made it through three scoreless innings, as he was the final available Blue Rocks pitcher.
Two weeks later, Evans was fired.