Stamets Provides Delayed Dramatics as Kernels Beat Peoria
By John Campbell, TV9 Sports
By Jeff Johnson, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS Back in the day, they used to call Mike Hargrove the "Human Rain Delay" because the former Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians first baseman had a fastidious nature at the plate. But Eric Stamets is the real "Human Rain Delay."
"I've never been called off the field in the middle of an at-bat like that," Stamets said after his rain-delayed three-run double gave the Cedar Rapids Kernels a 4-3 win over Peoria in one of the oddest finishes to a baseball game you'll ever see.
Stamets was at the plate with a 2-2 count, the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning when rain came out of nowhere. Peoria pitcher Luis Liria grabbed a rosin bag to dry his right throwing hand, and Stamets stepped out of the batter's box to ask for some pine tar for his bat and hands, which was enough to prompt home plate umpire Luke Engen to throw his hands in the air and unexpectedly call for the tarp.
Peoria Manager Casey Kopitzke and pitching coach Ron Villone immediately went ballistic, and a heated exchange on the field ensued between the coaches, Engen and his umpiring partner Mike Huus. In the middle of the downpour.
The rain stopped a brief time later, the tarp was rolled back up, the mound and box sprinkled with Diamond Dry, and the game resumed after 32 minutes. Stamets swung at the first pitch he saw, a fastball inner half from Liria he ripped on a bounce off the fence in left-center.
"Obviously being down two strikes, it's nerveracking coming back," Stamets said. "I didn't know what pitch he was going to throw. Luckily, I got a good pitch to hit."
A livid Villone tossed a large plastic garbage can full of empty paper cups from the dugout onto the field, as disbelieving Peoria players walked off the field and Kopitzke got in a couple of parting shots at the umpires.
"That's not my decision," Kopitzke said, when asked about the delay. "That's his decision, so I respect his decision. I just wish that we could have tried to finish that at-bat."
Kernels Manager Jamie Burke actually sided with Kopitzke.
"In that situation, I think you let us play," he said. "There's two strikes and two outs. If I had been on the other side, I'd have been pretty upset."
The Kernels (39-49 overall, 7-11 second half) have today off, then begin a six-game road trip to Great Lakes and Lansing.