NEW BRITAIN - The New Britain Beesâ€™ lone win of a three-game series against the Lancaster Barnstormers on Wednesday night came in unusual fashion.
Alejandro De Aza was drilled with a pitch to force in the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth. The painful heroics came after Lancaster had intentionally walked two batters in that peculiar ninth inning, only adding to the contestâ€™s quirky conclusion.
â€śThat was my first time seeing that,â€ť De Aza said. â€śBut itâ€™s part of the game. Any way you can get on base in that situation, you do it. Obviously, you donâ€™t want to get hit by a pitch, but if thatâ€™s the way, you have to be up for it.â€ť
While Wednesday nightâ€™s ending was unique for many members of the Bees roster, it also paled in comparison to other wacky finishes that some have seen in their time across various professional baseball leagues. De Azaâ€™s walk-off hit by pitch only provided a platform of storytelling for even crazier endings that the Bees have been a part of over the years.
Starting pitcher Christian Friedrich canâ€™t remember what minor league team he was playing for, but heâ€™ll never forget the strangest ending to a game he had ever seen, which also involved a batter (allegedly) getting plunked.
In the bottom of the ninth, Friedrich watch the final batter of the game take a check swing that hit the batterâ€™s hand to force in the game-winning run. Only the opposing manager stormed out of the dugout to argue that the pitch had actually hit the bat and not his hand, meaning it should have been ruled a foul ball. The umpire stood his ground on the initial call, and the manager maintained his stance, even when everyone else had left.
â€śThatâ€™s definitely up there as a different walk-off for sure,â€ť Friedrich said. â€śI remember the grounds crew came out to try and clean the field, but they were still arguing.â€ť
There was no arguing in outfielder Bijan Rademacherâ€™s choice for most unorthodox finish.
Rademacher was in the minor leagues watching his team look to close out a tight win when his manager issued an intentional walk with the winning run on third base. This was before the automatic intentional walk became a rule across baseball, and after this one, Rademacherâ€™s group likely wished the rule change came a bit earlier.
â€śThe pitcher just threw it to the backstop for a wild pitch and we lost,â€ť Rademacher recalled. â€śThatâ€™s why that four ball rule saves some guys that are having the yips. That was a crazy story.â€ť
The most bizarre ending likely goes to manager Mauro Gozzo, who was on the winning end of the most unfortunate equipment malfunction for the Detroit Tigers, who were trying to close out a game against Gozzoâ€™s Toronto Blue Jays back in 1989.
With the winning run on third base for Toronto in the bottom of the 14th inning, Lloyd Moseby poked a seemingly harmless comebacker to the mound, where Paul Gibson stood waiting to send the game to the 15th. Instead, the ball got caught between the fingers of Gibsonâ€™s glove, resulted in sheer panic as he tried to pry the ball from the gloveâ€™s seemingly unbreakable grip.
â€śHe just took the whole glove and threw it towards first base,â€ť Gozzo said. â€śItâ€™s wobbling in the air and falls to the ground, the runner is safe at first and it scored the winning run. Thatâ€™s the weirdest thing Iâ€™ve seen.â€ť
Of course, Gozzo recounts that night well for more reasons other than the incredibly bizarre conclusion.
â€śHow do I know that? I ended up getting the win,â€ť Gozzo laughed.
Baseball can be a wonderfully weird sport. Just ask the Bees.
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org