Legends Drop Extra Inning Thriller to Pearl 12-9
Palo Alto, Calif. – You never know what you are going to see when the Menlo Park Legends take on the Neptune Beach Pearl, but this author will promise you that it is worth whatever price admission is on that given day. Thursday marked the fifth meeting of the summer between the two clubs, with every game going into extra-innings or ending in one-run fashion. Game number five of the summer series proved to be no different as the Legends rallied late to take the lead, coughed it up, tied it back again and then let the Pearl score three times in the eleventh inning to walk away victorious 12-9. The Pearl improve to 30-12 and this summer with a 15-8 CCL mark while the Legends fall to 24-17 and 11-11 in conference games.
Let’s pick up the action in the bottom of the seventh, with the Legends down 5-3. Scott Ota led off the frame with a solid single and one batter later came around to score on an RJ Williams double to the wall in centerfield. After a strikeout to put the rest of the inning in jeopardy, the Legends got a big two out rally mounted. Clayton Casey walked, Nick Brooks singled home Williams to tie the game, and Sean Watkins walked to load the bases. Enter Chandler Bengston, who had already been quite productive in his first three plate appearances. He walked with the bases loaded in the first, homered in the fourth (his sixth of the summer), and doubled home a run in the sixth. When you are hot, you are hot, because Bengston crushed a ball to centerfield that got over the head of the Pearl outfielder and cleared the bases to put the Legends up 8-5. Give him six RBIs and at the time it seemed like he should be given the MVP award for the game.
Problem is, baseball is a nine inning game, and the Legends have learned that the hard way all summer. Ryan Lefner was on for his second inning when the ninth rolled around and immediately got into trouble with a leadoff walk followed by a double. One run came in to score on a wild pitch, but Lefner proceeded to strikeout the next two hitters to put the Legends one out away from a thrilling victory. Renae Martinez stepped in and bounced one to Brooks at third base who retreated and got a bad hop. The ball bounced off his glove and into left field to make it a one-run game after the error that could have ended the contest. John MacLean was then hit by a pitch, and a passed ball put both runners in scoring position. Enter Andrew Bryniarski, who already had a bases-clearing double in the fifth. He lined one to the gap that scored both runs and put the Pearl up 9-8. Back and forth we go.
But the game STILL wasn’t over. Dempsey Grover led off the bottom of the ninth with a single to left and went to second on a passed ball with nobody out. After consecutive outs from Casey and Brooks, things looked grim with Watkins standing in from the right side. Have no fear, he said, as he lined a single through the hole on the left side and Grover scored easily, with Watkins advancing to second base on the throw to the plate. Tie game at 9-9. Who’s stepping up? Bengston. Maybe Watkins didn’t get that memo as decided to take matters into his own hands and bluffed a steal to third base, which was read by the Pearl pitcher Blake Peters who stepped off and got Watkins into a rundown, one he would eventually be tagged out on. The foolish baserunner mistake cost the chance for a Legends win.
Fast forward to the eleventh inning and Ryan Lefner was still on the mound. Martinez led off for the Pearl and launched a solo homerun to left field to give Neptune Beach the lead back at 10-9. Two batters later, Bryniarski did the same thing. His homerun gave him six runs batted in on the day and extended the Pearl lead to 11-9. Jake Chappell added a single that scored Kendall Jefferies and the Pearl would lock down the bottom half in clean fashion to end the game at 12-9. Yet another thriller between the two teams, but one the Legends needed to win for their playoff hopes.
Menlo Park now falls one-half game behind the Prune Packers and Blues for the Wild Card spot in the CCL. Their next contest is Saturday at Laney College as they square off once again against the Neptune Beach Pearl. First pitch for the final road game of the summer is at 5:00 PM and the game will be broadcasted live on the Legends Radio Network.