Strange Things Happen In Spring Training: The Walk-Off That Wasn’t

Tacoma played Round Rock today in a Triple-A exhibition game. The game was played at the Texas Rangers complex in Surprise, so the Rainiers were the visiting team and batted first.

All of which made Dario Pizzano‘s walk-off three-run homer in the top of the tenth inning rather unusual. It got even weirder when two more batters came to the plate afterwards.

Here’s what happened:

Before the game, Round Rock/Texas told the Rainiers that they had ten innings worth of pitching they wanted to use. The Rainiers, however, had only brought enough pitchers to cover nine innings.

So it was agreed that after the bottom of the ninth inning, no matter what the score was, Tacoma would bat in the top of the tenth – and then the game was over.

We reached the end of the ninth and Round Rock had a 7-4 lead.

The trotted out their new, tenth inning pitcher, as expected, and the Rainiers went to work. Brayan Hernandez led off and reached on an error. Tyler O’Neill singled sharply to left field. Dan Vogelbach drew a walk, loading the bases. Joe Rizzo hit a sacrifice fly to left, scoring a run and making the first out of the inning. It was 7-5.

Up came Pizzano, and he lined a three-run homer to the right field corner to give Tacoma the 8-7 win.

Game over? Nope! The Rangers pitching prospect faced two more Rainiers batters before the day’s events came to an end.

Manager Pat Listach said “I guess we walked them off,” then looked at me and added “don’t tell anybody we got an extra inning to bat in!” Sorry, Pat.

Notes from today:

  • D.J. Peterson homered again – his second in as many days. He pulled a liner to left off Round Rock starter Ariel Jurado, who is considered to be a pretty good prospect.
  • Tyler O’Neill also went deep off Jurado. His homer was more of a fly ball to left center, and it was a bit of a wall-scraper as it just cleared the 365-foot marker. O’Neill had two hits on the day, but he also had trouble with the sun in right field on a catchable fly ball to the track that fell in for a double.
  • Tacoma started Christian Bergman on the mound, and he went four innings without allowing a run. He worked in the upper-80s with his fastball, but had an assortment of sliders and cutters which produced a bunch of infield grounders.
  • Round Rock tied it in the fifth inning against Rainiers reliever Jean Machi when a two-out error proceeded a two-run homer.
  • Dan Vogelbach doubled in a run in the sixth against Jurado. He had a couple of hard-hit balls today. It was interesting to note that even in minor league spring training games, both Omaha yesterday and Round Rock today played extreme defensive shifts against Vogelbach. Vogelbach DH’d today while D.J. handled first – I suspect we’ll see them share the positions for Tacoma in April.
  • The Rainiers pitchers for the final four innings were left-handers Kyle Hunter and Zac Collins. Hunter went two frames, allowing a run when a routine fly ball to center was lost in the sun. Collins also went two innings, allowing four runs.
  • The left side of the Rainiers infield was patrolled by teenagers for the second day in a row, as regular Tacoma infielders Tyler Smith and Mike Freeman are still in major league camp. Of note, an 18-year-old shortstop named Osmy Gregorio showed smooth skills with the glove and a strong arm.
  • Got my first look at Thyago Vieira, who pitched in the Double-A game at a neighboring field. A scout friend had Vieira’s fastball from 96 to 99 mph, and I saw two impressive breaking balls. His command was inconsistent, which is why he’s in Double-A right now.

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One Response to Strange Things Happen In Spring Training: The Walk-Off That Wasn’t

  1. Brian M! says:

    Thanks for posting the KBO preview. It makes me want to catch a flight to Seoul to take in the madness. I might have to take a hard hat with all the crazy bat flips/catapults.

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