LYNN, Mass. - With a morning game looming on Thursday, the Bristol Blues and North Shore Navigators didn't get much sleep on Wednesday night, as they played 17 innings with no result, the game being suspended in a 4-4 tie shortly after midnight.
Although the teams played again Thursday morning, the suspended game will be completed before the team's regularly-scheduled meeting in Lynn, Mass., on Aug. 4 at 7 p.m.
The Blues trailed 4-0 after seven innings on Wednesday, but had two-out, two-run rallies in both the eighth and ninth innings to tie the game, right after North Shore starter Speros Varinos was taken out of the contest. He had allowed just three hits with no walks and no runs over the first seven innings, striking out eight batters.
Reliever Sean O'Neill got two quick ground outs, but Tyler Roberts (2-for-7, 1 run, 2 RBI) gave the Blues a spark with a two-out single. Chris Villa also singled to put runners on first and second, then Lorenzo Arcuri (2-for-4) hit an RBI single to drive in the first run of the game for Bristol. The second run of the inning scored on a wild pitch. Brian Burke then came on in relief to retire the next two Bristol batters.
The Blues again rallied with two outs in the top of the ninth inning, starting with a walk to Jimmy Titus. Brandon Grover doubled to put runners on second and third, setting up a game-tying single by Roberts.
Six Blues pitchers combined to allow just six hits through the 17 innings, but starter Teddy Carey gave up seven walks in his three innings of work, helping the Navigators score three earned runs.
A walk, a base hit and another walk loaded the bases with no outs for the Navigators in the bottom of the third, setting up the game's first runs. One run was forced in on Carey's third walk of the inning before the second scored on a double play ball.
After walking the first two batters of the fourth inning, Carey was replaced by Michael Nocera, who gave up a single to load the bases and a sacrifice fly before getting an inning-ending double play.
A free pass of another kind hurt the Blues in the bottom of the fifth, as Nocera hit North Shore's Jordan Roper with a pitch with one out. Roper moved to second on a ground out, stole third base and scored on an RBI single from Nick DiBenedetto.
The eight extra innings were dominated by Bristol, but the Blues were unable to push across a run despite numerous chances.
An error and two walks loaded the bases for Bristol with one out in the top of the 11th inning, but a force out at home on a grounder to short and another ground out ended the threat.
The Blues put runners on second and third with two outs in the 14th inning and loaded the bases with two outs in the 15th, both times failing to score.
Then a single by James Brown, a balk, a walk, an infield ground out and another walk loaded the bases for Bristol with one out in the 16th inning. But again, a pair of harmless outs allowed the Navigators to get out of the inning.
Meanwhile, Blues relief pitchers combined to retire 21 straight North Shore batters after the Navigators opened the seventh inning with a walk and a base hit. Shane Bierfeldt got out of that jam with a strikeout and a pair of fly outs before throwing a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Then Mike Kreiger retired 15 straight batters, recording seven strikeouts.
Mike Munson followed with three hitless innings, although he did hit a batter to start the 14th, breaking the string of 21 straight Navigators retired. He then struck out the side in order in both the 15th and 16th innings before walking the first two batters in the bottom of the 17th.
Adam Goss entered to pitch at that point and got a fly out to left field and a double play grounder to short to end the inning with the game still tied 4-4.
The game was suspended at the point and will be resumed in the 18th inning next Thursday.
Paul Angilly can be reached at (860) 973-1800, or firstname.lastname@example.org