Burke Both the Westfield and Robinson baseball teams, along with competing against one another in Tuesday night’s Concorde District tournament baseball championship game, had to deal with sloppy, rainy weather conditions as well. Ultimately, following a third inning delay due to rain, the Rams of Robinson came away with a 4-2 finals win.
The title game was originally scheduled to be played on Monday night at Chantilly High, but rainy conditions forced postponement to Tuesday. While the contest did get played on Tuesday, the site was changed – from Chantilly High to Westfield.
The 6:30 p.m. scheduled start got off without a hitch. The game began with overcast clouds and the threat of rain, with a light sprinkle starting up later in the opening inning. Later, in the top of the third with Robinson batting, the rain began coming down harder. By the time the half inning concluded, the rain was coming down steadily and conditions were such that the umpire crew stopped play until the rain stopped or slowed down.
Players from both teams helped pull a large, white tarp onto the infield. The state of the art field protector also covered several feet of the outfield grass.
Fans in attendance had sought shelter away from the ball diamond and the players, after putting the tarp on, stayed in their respective dugouts waiting to see what the remainder of the evening would bring. The rain grew harder and steadier.
Music from the press box - everything from the classic `Singing in the Rain’ to the Beach Boys - echoed throughout the mostly vacated ball diamond and stadium area. The game’s three umpires, along with game officials and media personnel, hung out in a crowed press box.
One of the three men in blue stated, “I think we got the teams off just in time,” as the rain began falling even harder.
Westfield head coach Chuck Welch came up to the press box, got to a computer, and checked the weather forecast for the remainder of the night on intellicast.com. A large, motionless heavy rain cloud, it appeared, loomed over the area and was there to stay.
“It’s not the first time this year this has happened to us,” said Welch, recalling a home game versus McLean in which the Westfield ball field was covered by tarp prior to the start of the game. Eventually, the non-district meeting got underway and was completed.
Speaking of the huge tarp, Welch, talking to the umpires and others in the press box, said, “I’m pretty sure this might be the only tarp [of this quality] in the Northern Region. It’s pretty easy to put on, not so easy to take off.”
ULTIMATELY, THE GAME resumed following a long delay. After the teams had ample time to warn up again, `play ball’ was the call. Robinson, who led 3-0 when the game was initially stopped in the third inning, went on to the 4-2 championship victory.
Initially, at the start of the game and prior to the rain delay, things had gotten off to a somewhat rocky start for the Rams, although they did take an early lead. The guests had scored a run in the top of the first inning, thanks to an RBI double down the left field line and off the outfield wall by Rams’ No. 3 batter Chase Bailey. The extra base hit, which came with one out, plated Patrick Baker, who had led off the game with an opposite field double down the right field line. Danny Herrera, Robinson’s No. 2 batter, executed a sacrifice bunt to move Baker to third before Bailey’s two-bagger accounted for the game’s initial run and a lead the Rams would never relinquish.
Following the Bailey double, Robinson’s Denis Mikush walked and Will Miller reached on an infield single to lead the bases for the Rams, who were threatening to score more. But Westfield starting pitcher Bryan Drager retired the next two batters and Robinson left the bases full.
But Robinson soon found itself in a serious jam upon taking the field. In Westfield’s first inning at-bats, walks to the first three Bulldog batters – Matt Pisarcik, Wade Arduini, and Kyle Corwin – loaded the bases and forced Robinson head coach John James to make an early pitching change. Reliever Matt Spaulding, who started the game at shortstop, took over on the mound and somehow got out of the inning without the Bulldogs scoring.
The first batter he faced, Patrick McLaughlin, sizzled a hard ground ball to third base. Rams’ third baseman Herrera fielded the ball and threw home for a force play at the plate. Robinson catcher Kyle Hatterick, with one foot on home plate, made an outstanding short-hop catch of the throw for the innings first out. Spaulding then coaxed a 4-6-3 double play to get his team out of the inning unscathed and Robinson still ahead 1-0.
The game’s next scoring inning came in the top of the third when Robinson scored twice to go ahead 3-0. Herrera and Bailey opened the inning by earning walks. A wild pitch advanced both runners before Mikush hit a high sacrifice fly down the right field line to score a run and make it 2-0. Next, Miller, who bats left-handed, plated the innings second run on a fielder’s choice ground ball to second base. When the half inning ended, Robinson had built a 3-0 lead just as the umpires were putting a temporary halt to the game due to the rain. The fairly long delay followed.
But at night’s end, it was the Rams who had outlasted the elements and beaten a strong team in the Westfield Bulldogs.
Both Robinson and Westfield are scheduled to host opening round Northern Region playoff games this Friday night. Their opponents will be Langley and Marshall from the Liberty District.