Last Saturday night I made the trek up to northern New Jersey to watch the Shikoku Island All Stars take on the Sussex County Miners of the Can-Am League. Like my trip to Little Falls last year
, I was again accompanied by my good friend Chuck.
The Miners play at Skyland Stadium in Augusta, New Jersey (formerly home of the New Jersey Cardinals of the New Yourk-Penn League) which is in a surprisingly rural area of the state just north of Lake Hopatcong. It was a pretty leisurely drive for us from Chuck's house and we bought our tickets for the game at the box office just as the gates were opening up about an hour before game time. I had brought a couple baseball cards with me to get autographed by pticher Junki Kishimoto and coaches Hironori Suguro and Hidenori Itoh. After checking out the merchandise table (and discovering that as expected that the 2XL sized t-shirt was a Japanese 2XL and wasn't going to fit me), I headed over to the All Star team's side of the field to see what I could do about the autographs.
To make a long story short, I did end up getting all three autographs. I caught Suguro in the dugout. I was really embarrassed that I initially thought he was Itoh - I think the scorecard had the uniform numbers for the two of them reversed but since Suguro is about 20 years older than Itoh, I really should have realized who he was. I apologized profusely while he signed the card.
|1994 BBM #212|
I located Itoh out in the bullpen - he was pretty amused to see a card of himself here. He spoke a little English and asked me what number he should use on the card - his current number (either 82 or 83) or the one he had as a player (#52). I told him whatever he wanted to do was fine with me - he put #52 on it. He handed me the card back and shook my hand as best we could through the cyclone fence behind the bullpen.
|2007 BBM 2nd Version #725|
I asked Itoh if he knew where Kishimoto was and he said that he didn't really expect to see him out in the bullpen until about the fifth inning. I walked back to our seats and went off to get some food for dinner. I had just started in on my cheeseburger when I realized that Kishimoto was standing over by the dugout. I put my food down and headed back over. There was a guy standing on the dugout steps doing a live video stream for Periscope and when he saw that I was trying to get Kishimoto's attention, he went and got him for me. Like Itoh, Kishimoto seemed amused that I had a card of him.
|2014 BBM Rookie Edition #074|
And I discovered later that I had made the Periscope video. If you go to about the four minute mark on the video in this tweet, you'll see me calling out to him and handing him the card to sign before the video jumps to something else.
The game itself was pretty exciting. Itsuki Shoda, the 2002 Pacific League Rookie Of The Year with the Nippon-Ham Fighters started for Shikoku Island. The All Stars took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third but the Miners tied it up with single runs in the third and fifth innings.
Things got very interesting in the top of the eighth. With one out and two on, the All Stars executed a double steal (on the third strike to batter Takahiro Hayashi) and Yuta Ohshiro was called safe at third on a very close play. Miners third baseman Nick Giarraputo was very adamant in his disagreement with the umpire's call however and play was delayed a bit while first pitcher Stone Speer and then manager Bobby Jones interceded on his behalf. The next batter was Zach Colby, one of the two Americans on the Shikoku Island team. On the second pitch after the double steal, Colby hit a grounder to shortstop Ryan Dent who made an off balance throw that appeared to pull first baseman Chris Jacobs off the bag. The first base umpire called Colby out however and then things went a bit out of control. Colby started arguing with the umpire and manager Terushi Nakajima quickly came out to continue the argument. In the meantime for some reason most of the All Stars left the dugout and came on to the field as well. I'm not completely sure what happened but someone actually sprinted on to the field like they were going after the umpire and had to be restrained by his teammates. One player - Barrett Phillips, the other American on the team - was ejected during the fracas. I'm really not sure what to make of what happened and I've been unable to find anything on-line about it - it didn't make the game's write up
and I haven't seen anything else about it. You can watch the replay of the game
and see what you think - the whole thing starts around the 2 hour, 20 minute mark.
The game remained tied until the top of the 11th when Shikoku Island took advantage of the international extra innings rule that has team start each inning after the 10th with a runner on second and scored two runs. The Miners rallied for two of their own in the bottom of the 11th however. The All Stars had their runner picked off in the top of the twelfth inning and the Miners scored the winning run on a bases loaded single by catcher Elvin Soto in the bottom of the inning.
The box score of the game is here
Here's some pictures from the game:
|Posing for a pre-game photo|
|I think this is Jiro Kato|
|Coach Hidenori Itoh and catcher Hiroki Tsuruta out in the bullpen|
|All Stars starting lineup|
|Lined up for the National Anthems|
|Miners mascot Herbie - Fear the Beard|
|The All Stars disagree with the call at first in the eighth|
|More of their disagreement|
|The Miners walk off|
|The Miners celebrate|