Good memory, Owen

In the comments to this morning's Midwest League Action post, Owen Serey of the Silver Hawks chimed in with a comment in reaction to this play in Monday's Cedar Rapids v. Beloit game.
You go to the ballpark enough, and eventually you’ll see something you’ve never seen before.

Like Monday afternoon at Memorial Stadium when a Cedar Rapids Kernels player got strike three called on him without the opposing pitcher even throwing a pitch.

Alexi Amarista was the unlucky victim. The mighty mite struck out in the seventh inning of a 7-5 Beloit win after not getting into the batter’s box quickly enough for home plate umpire Nick Mahrley.

Amarista was in an 0-2 hole after taking an inside pitch from reliever Steve Blevins for a called strike. He stepped out of the box for a few seconds to regroup, and still was there when Mahrley suddenly punched him out on strike three.

Amarista, who speaks little English, stood there seemingly confused, as Kernels Manager Bill Mosiello came charging in from the third-base coach’s box to argue. The call stood.
Owen remembered a similar play in a Dayton @ Wisconsin game from 2007.
Automatic Strike = Dumbest rule in baseball.

If I remember correctly, Wisconsin lost a game to Dayton on the rule back in '07 on the final batter of the game. Even working with Dayton at the time, I thought that was the worst way ever to win a game.
Well, it wasn't a lot of fun to lose the game that way either. It happened on April 30, 2007 at Time Warner Cable Field. Oddly, the game story archive from April 2007...Heck the entire game story archive for 2007 has every game story written by me..Every.Single.One...except April 30, 2007? What the heck?

Here is the play-by-play and I'll pull out the bottom of the ninth inning where the Rattlers are trailing 3-1 heading into the frame.

Wisconsin Bottom 9th
  • Gavin Dickey strikes out swinging.
  • Gregory Halman strikes out swinging.
  • Ogui Diaz reaches on fielding error by third baseman Juan Francisco.
  • Leury Bonilla strikes out swinging.
Seems innocent enough. The strikes out swing part is completely wrong, but I guess they still don't have a symbol for strikes out without a strike three being thrown.

Two things before we get to the meat and potatoes and creamed corn and steamed carrots and ice cold milk with a little bit of .... oh, sorry...drifted off there for a second.

#1.) Greg Halman struck out? Get out of here!
#2.) Ogui Diaz, everybody! Ogui Diaz!

Okay here's the situation. Bonilla is at the plate as the potential tying run. Keep in mind the only reason the Rattlers are not being shutout -- Good, Nolan Ryan! The only reason the Rattlers aren't being no-hit -- at this point in the game is because Bonilla hit a home run in the seventh.

With one strike on him Home Plate Umpire Alex Ortiz calls a strike on Bonilla on a pitch from Pedro Viola that could generously be called in the same neighborhood of the strike zone...kind of like the way that Miller Park and Wrigley Field are in the same neighborhood.

Bonilla takes a walk out of the box and -- without warning -- Ortiz rings up Bonilla on strike three. Game over.

To be fair, all of the teams in minor league baseball were told before the season that they had to keep at least one foot in the box between pitches. And the call was technically correct. But...geez, Louisa May Alcott.

Fortunately, for once, I knew what the call was and wasn't completely caught off guard. But, still...The thing that I remember most about this was the suddenness of it all.

The Dragons went on to sweep the series and this part of a game story from the final game of the series has not disappeared down the rabbit hole...yet.
In the ninth, Timber Rattler frustrations bubbled over. Dayton had runners at second and third with no out. The Wisconsin infielders were playing in on the grass to cut down the run at the plate. Justin Turner hit a grounder right to Bonilla at third base. Bonilla dove for the runner at third and appeared to have tagged him out. Base umpire Alex Diaz ruled the runner safe and Rattler manager Jim Horner sprinted out of the dugout to argue the call. After a brief, but heated argument Horner was ejected. Just before the next pitch was ready to be delivered, Diaz ejected Bonilla.

When play finally resumed, Chris Valaika singled to center, two runs scored, and the Dragons had a 5-2 lead.
At one time Alex Ortiz -- who I am sure is a fine young man -- worked MLB Umpire Camps; worked for the Wendelstedt Umpire School, and had this written about him in USA Today.
Alex Ortiz dreams of being the most hated figure on the baseball diamond. For him, the rules of baseball are more important than playing the game.

Ortiz, 22, completed a five-week course this month at the Harry Wendelstedt School for Umpires in Daytona Beach, Fla. The school is one of two programs Major League Baseball uses to recruit those who call the game.
He is currently an umpire in the Southern League.

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