NOTE: As the video embedded below shows, Joey Bergman, not Nick Longmire made the throw, even though the official game recap credits Nick Longmire.
All season, Nick Longmire has swung a productive bat to help the Batavia Muckdogs make it to the NY-Penn League playoffs.
Tonight, it was Longmire's arm that helped ensure there will be at least one more professional baseball game played in Batavia.
In the top of the ninth, with two out and bases loaded, Tri-City Wildcats shortstop Ben Orloff hit a blooper to center. Longmire charged, dove and the ball ticked off his glove. Chris Wallace scored from third to make the score 5-4. Jacke Healey, on second, never broke stride, charging for home. Muckdogs catcher Juan Castillo stepped in front of the plate blocking Healey's path and taking Bergman's throw on one bounce. Healey didn't have a chance.
The play capped a game that was as good as they come. For the 59,000 Genesee County residents who weren't at Dwyer tonight -- you were in the wrong place.
It was a game that was as unusual as it was compelling. It opened under dark, heavy cloud cover, a threat of rain, and a must-win match in a three-game playoff series after the Muckdogs had already dropped one game.
Orloff opened the first with a double, advanced to third on a ground out and scored on the second out. Starter Zach Russell then walked the next three batters and hit the fourth.
The Muckdogs were down by two runs on only one hit.
In the fifth inning, with the score 2-1, the Muckdogs loaded the bases and Joey Bergman came to the plate working the count to 3-1, or did he? The scoreboard read two balls and one strike. Tri-City starter Jim Robinson tossed the next pitch and it was called a ball.
Bergman dropped his bat and started heading to first, but none of the Muckdogs' runners advanced, as the third-base coach waved his hands for everybody to hold their bases.
As fans yelled "ball four," the Tri-City manager trotted out to home plate to ask what was going on. The four umpires conferred and decided Bergman did in fact draw a walk, allowing Chris Edmundson to score (pictured above).
It's not often, at any level of professional baseball, that you see an attempt at a sacrifice turn into a double play. But in the 7th, following a single to right by Daniel Adamson, Tri-City DH Michael Kvasnicka managed to bunt the ball just hard enough for Batavia pitcher Zach Russell to charge off the mound, scope up the ball, wheel and fire to second. Enrique Hernandez followed with what was then a meaningless double.
Russell left the game after six innings with a 3-2 lead, having given up only one hit, the lead-off double to Orloff.
Keith Butler nailed down the final three outs in the ninth to get the save.
Third baseman Jon Rodriguez had three hits and two RBIs, while both Longmire and Victor Sanchez had two hits each.
Game three of the playoff series is scheduled for 7:05 p.m., Thursday, at Dwyer.
In the other NY-Penn League series, Brooklyn beat Jamestown 9-8 in 12 innings to knot the series at 1-1.
UPDATE: Video by Mike Janes:
More pictures after the jump: