By Andrew Johnson

COMSTOCK PARK – For the first time in 3,157 regular season games over 23 seasons, the West Michigan Whitecaps played to a tie.LSJ Logo incert

West Michigan and Peoria played to a 9-9 deadlock in a marathon game that lasted 15 innings and slightly more than six hours at Fifth Third Ballpark.whitecaps logo not for feature art

The game was called at 1:11 a.m. due to Midwest League rules that state an inning cannot begin after 12:50 a.m.

“It was a crazy game of highs and lows,” said Whitecaps Manager Andrew Graham, who added that he’d never been part of a game that finished tied in his professional career. “Every time they scored, we scored. It was an emotional game.”

The emotions came to a peak in the bottom of the 13th inning when it looked like the game was sure to end in the home team’s favor.

With two outs and Franklin Navarro on first, Hill smashed a deep fly ball to right center that ordinarily would have scored Navarro easily. But as Navarro was rounding third for home, the ball bounced over the wall, leaving Hill with a ground-rule double and forcing Navarro back to third.

With two outs and Navarro 90 feet from ending the game, Rashad Brown laced a hard hit ball that Peoria right fielder Carlos Torres slipped while tracking. But the outfielder regained his footing and made the catch to send the game to the 14th inning.

“I thought we had won it there,” Graham said. “Emotions were high when Hill hit his double to right and my runner was going to easily score. Then with the right fielder slipping and regaining his feet to catch the ball it was an emotional roller coaster.”

The teams combined to use 13 different pitchers who threw a total of 486 pitches on the night.

That sort of workload prompted both managers to end the game using non-pitchers as pitchers.

In the 15th inning, West Michigan sent third baseman Jose Zambrano out to pitch, after playing 14 innings in the field. The gamble paid off. Zambrano retired the first two batters, loaded the bases, then induced a groundout by Jose Godoy to end the inning.

In the bottom of the inning, Godoy, who had just caught 14 innings for Peoria, took the mound and finished the game without allowing a hit.

The teams also combined for 48 hits, a Midwest League record.

West Michigan rallied five different times to tie the contest.

Peoria started the scoring with a run in the second before West Michigan responded with a run in the third. Peoria then jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning before the Whitecaps answered with a two-run fifth inning.

Each team scored two runs in the seventh, eighth, and tenth innings.

“I don’t even know – I’m so tired that I don’t even want to think about it,” said the Whitecaps’ Will Maddox about playing in the marathon game that nobody won. “It was a long game. I’ve never been a part of a tie game except maybe in summer ball when I was young and the game went long.”

Maddox led the Whitecaps with five hits.