MINFORD — The idea that you see something new at the ballpark every day certainly held true on Wednesday.
Minford High School’s baseball team has been playing night games “under the lights” for some time.
So when the Falcons and Valley Indians began their second meeting of the Southern Ohio Conference Division II schedule, neither the teams — nor the spectators — could have predicted the events that would unfold.
Valley scored their first run in the top of the second on a pair of two out singles — one by junior Colt Buckle and the go-ahead knock from freshman Jaekyn Ridout.
The Falcons knotted the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth with three singles — and a Valley error allowing the tying run to score.
Following Minford’s tying score, neither side was willing to budge an inch. Runners on base via walk or hit, it didn’t matter.
Three more scoreless innings meant that for the fourth-consecutive meeting between the two, Valley and Minford were headed to extra innings. No runs in the eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh meant all involved were heading to the 12th.
Even the potential for a walk-off escaped in the proceeding innings as no runs were scored when both teams left the field for the night tied 1-1.
Minford and Valley’s starting pitchers — juniors Noah Martin and George Arnett, respectively — had both reached their pitch-count cap (125) in the extra frames.
Juniors Cole Borland and George Arnett entered in relief for the Falcons and Indians and helped keep the game scoreless since the 4th.
In the bottom of the 12th inning with one out with the score still square, one of the sets lights stopped working and a noticeable shade set in on first base side of the infield. Although the other lights covering the field were working, play was stopped by the umpires and a meeting between the coaches commenced to discuss a resolution.
After a 29-minute delay between the lights going out and an official decision, at 9:51 p.m. the conclusion all parties agreed to was that the finish of Wednesday’s game between the rivals would come another day.
The date for resumption has been set for Thursday, April 28, as of Thursday afternoon.
Not only is the result of the game intriguing because of the circumstances, it also has a major impact on the league race. As of Wednesday, Valley (8-0, 8-0 SOC II) is atop the SOC II standings, with Wheelersburg (7-4, 7-1 SOC II) and Minford (6-5, 6-3 SOC II) close behind.
When both teams do return to end things, since it will be outside of the five-day window, both starting pitchers will be allowed to pitch again in the game — since they stayed in the field.
Following the decision to suspend the contest, Valley coach Nolan Crabtree and Minford coach Anthony Knittel were asked their thoughts on this unusual and wacky chapter in their rivalry.
“It’s frustrating not getting to finish, but it’s out of our control. Both team’s pitchers have done a great job tonight. Every time we play, seven innings isn’t enough for these guys,” Crabtree said. “It’s always a battle – big plays, big pitches being made, and the kids are up for it. Everybody’s just waiting for the big hit. We’re going to have to figure out a date where we can finish it, make sure we have our heads are right. It’s going to be a different atmosphere when that happens.”
“Every time Valley and Minford play, this is what we get – a dramatic finish. Two good teams going at it,” Knittel said. “Valley’s a heck of a team this year – I’m happy the way our guys came out and competed. Started off a little slow, but that’s what happens when you have George Arnett on the mound. Mixes his pitches well. Then after George, you’ve got to deal with Carter Nickel, and that’s no easy task. They’re very good pitchers. We’ve got to stay focused, the delay just stinks. But we’ll go on, meet at Waverly on Friday, and see these guys later on.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved