Written by Biko Skalla:
The Bananas are a WAGON. It took five hours and 13 innings, but the end result was the same as the previous five times the Nanners played the Macon Bacon this summer: a win for the Savannah. Each team used six pitchers and got into the seventh trip through their batting orders. There were heroic plays, horrible errors, and incredibly clutch hits from both sides all throughout the night, although especially in extra innings. Let’s try to parse this thing out and figure out how the Bananas improbably ended up being the ones celebrating with a 9-7 win at night’s end.
Where better to start than the first pitch of the game, which bounced off the side of the helmet of Drew, Just Wait and See What I do in the Eleventh, Yniesta. Brody, Thanks for Saving me a Spot, Wortham, took Drew’s place at first when he hit into a fielder’s choice and then came in to score on a booming two-out double to right-center from Bryson, I’ll See You in the Fifth, Tenth, and Twelfth, Bloomer. Dylan, Good Thing You Came Back for Me, Kurahashi-Choy Foo, laced a single the opposite way to bring in Bloomer and make it 2-0 Nanners.
Andy, I’m Sick of Foul Balls, Booth, faced the minimum in the bottom of the first thanks to a laser beam throw from his catcher Taylor, How’s That for a Stunt?, Justus, to gun down Grant, Mr. and Mrs., Smith, who was trying to steal second.
With one out in the top of the second Armando, Low Key Thought This was Gone, Becerra, lined a frozen rope off the top of the right field wall for a double and came in to score on an RBI groundout from his former Erskine teammate Drew.
The Bacon worked some incredibly tough at-bats against Booth in the second inning, drawing 35 pitches from the Savannah southpaw and scoring two runs on one walk, two singles, and a double. With two outs in the inning, Tyler, We can Just Grab KFC on the Way Back to Macon, Gillum, and Corey, My Tape Literally Held the Whiteboard Broadcast Together, Pye, turned to Hunter, Rec Specs Boys Have Each Others Backs, Entsminger, who stranded two of Andy’s runners on second and third to preserve the Bananas 3-2 lead.
A two out single from Dylan in the top of the third led to nothing and Hunter was able to pitch around a single and hit batter in the bottom half to maintain the Bananas one run advantage.
A leadoff single from Landry, Laundry Beach, Mead, in the top of the fourth didn’t turn into anything meaningful and then Hunter ran into trouble in the bottom half as he hit a batter, got a strikeout and then gave up a walk to end his night. In came Jestin, Nom Nom Time, Jones, who allowed Entsminger’s two runners to score but stranded his own runners as the Bacon took their first lead of the night 4-3.
Ty, We’ll Meet Again in the Twelfth, Jackson, walked, got to third on two-base error from the pitcher on a pickoff attempt, and scored on a single from Bloomer to tie the game at four runs apiece.
Jestin would give up a walk and single in the fifth but strikeout the side to avoid any damage. The Nanners couldn’t capitalize on a leadoff single from Armando in the sixth and Jones used a 4-6-3 double play in the bottom half to erase the leadoff walk he gave up, ending his night with 2.2 scoreless innings of four strikeout relief.
Brody and Caden, Next Time in the Thirteenth, Green, both got plunked in the top of the seventh but would be stranded. In came Tyler, Through the Fire and Flames, Bradt, for the bottom half of the frame who struck out a pair and worked around a two-out walk to keep the game tied. After the Nanners went down in order for the first time all night in the top of the eighth, Bradt worked around a one-out walk to toss a scoreless bottom half and send the game to the ninth locked at four to four.
In came Jarrett, Bender City, Miller, who struck out the side, two of the K’s coming on punchout calls that the Bananas brass strongly disagreed with. In came the third year Nanner, Nolan, Welcome to Slider City, Daniel, who got a groundout and three strikeouts (a cat got to first on a dropped third strike), to send the game to extras.
This was the first extra inning game for either team this summer, and per CPL rules in extra innings the last two guys in the order take first and second base to start every inning. That meant Brody Wortham got second and Bryson Bloomer took first to start the top of the 10th. Kurahashi-Choy Foo faked a bunt attempt and Brody and Bryson swiped third and second to set the Bananas up beautifully with nobody out. But Jarrett Miller in his first appearance of the summer for Macon had some nastiness in store for the Nanners, as he would throw twelve straight breaking balls to strikeout KFC and Peanut, and induce a fly ball to center from pinch hitter Beau, From the Broadcast to the Field, Brewer, to escape the jam unscathed. A fired up Miller hooped and hollered coming off the mound, as he should have, and the Macon bench was electrified by the Houdini act their newest reliever performed before their eyes.
The Nanners sent Nolan back out for the bottom half, with runners starting the inning on first and second and the tall task of preventing either man from scoring to keep the game alive. The Bacon used their 6’8″ DH, Davis, Highwater, Heller, to sac bunt their men to second and third with one out. But Nolan can get nasty with the best of them, as he came through big time with his fourth and fifth strikeouts in two innings of work to strand the winning run on third and send the game to the eleventh.
Peanut and Brewer were placed on second and first respectively, and both moved up on a wild pitch with nobody out, replicating the threat the Bananas had the inning earlier. Second year Bacon pitcher Hunter, Hold the Door, Varnadoe, had come in to relieve Miller, and he was able to get Armando swinging for an enormous first out. Gillum then sent out Indiana, From the Broadcast to the Field 2: Time to Shine, Stanley, who looped a two-strike bloop single into center to bring home Green and give the Bananas their first lead since the fourth inning. Drew followed that up with a perfect swinging bunt down the third base line that rolled nearly all the way to the bag, bringing in Brewer to make it 6-4.
Nolan went back out for the eleventh, and after a sac bunt from Macon made it second and third with one out, Gillum intentionally walked Grant Smith to load the bases, setting up force outs at every stop. Nolan got Carter, Time to HUSTLE, Sanford, to ground one to first, where Choy Foo snagged it and fired to second for one out, but the return throw from defensive replacement, Jack, Normally Smooth as a Baby’ Bottom, Renwick, sailed well over Nolan’s head who was racing to cover first, allowing Javon, Let’s Talk About My Walks and Not My Sombrero, Fields, to score the tying run, knotting the game at 6-6. Brian, Let’s Just Discuss This At-Bat, Herrera, bounced a single up the middle to make it first and third and Gillum issued his second intentional walk of the inning to load the bases. Nolan got James, Ring My, Bell, to loft a ball towards right center that for a second looked like it was heading into right field for a walk-off single but then died and actually fell in front of Peanut, who snagged the weird flare on a couple hops and fired to first in time to nab Bell by a step. Onto the twelfth.
Ty and Jack were positioned on second and first, and Bloomer immediately shot a base hit back up the middle to bring in Jackson and putting the Bananas up 7-6. Dylan then lined a ball straight to short, and unfortunately Renwick had too beefy of a secondary lead to retreat to second base before the throw from Smith doubled him off. A groundout to short from Peanut meant Nolan would have only one run to play with in the bottom half.
Just like in the tenth, Davis Heller led off and laid a bunt down, but this time KFC charged, barehanded the ball, wheeled towards third and fired a bullet to Beau just in time to nab the lead runner Holden, Cool, Breeze. But just when the Nanners felt great about stealing the first out, Mason, I’ve Got Another Inning in Me, Minzey, shot a single the opposite way to left to bring in James Bell, tying the game at 7-7. Mondo had what looked to be a perfect one-hopper to home that would have possibly been in time to get Bell, but the one hop clipped the lip of the grass at the edge of the dirt circle surrounding home plate and bounded over Indy’s head, allowing Heller to reach third and Minzey to take second. For the third inning in a row in extras, two of the times being with just one out, the Bacon had the winning run at third base. Nolan dug deep and won an epic full-count battle with Javon Fields by striking him out on a high slider. With two down now and the talented lefty Bryce, First the C’s Lose and Now This?!, Matthews, due to hit, Gillum took out his third year Nanner, making it 3.2 innings of scoreless relief while striking out six for Nolan. In came the savvy southpaw Nick, Time to Turn it up to Eleven, Foray, who got Matthews to fly out to left, sending the game to the thirteenth inning.
With KFC on second and Peanut on fist, Brewer wasted no time getting the party started as he stroked a single up the middle bringing in Dylan to put the Bananas on top 8-7, as the throw from center went to the backstop on the fly allowing Caden and Beau to advance a base each. On the next pitch Gillum sent Green from third and Armando laid down a beautiful bunt to the right side to drive in Peanut and push Brewer over to third. Matthew, What a Time for a Debut, Comnos, got two huge outs to prevent any further harm.
Foray went back out for the bottom of the thirteenth, and on the first pitch of the inning fired a ball in the dirt that evaded Indy and allowed both runners to advance, putting the tying run on second base. It certainly added a healthy dose of more drama and intrigue to the half inning, but Nick would not be daunted by the increase in stakes, as he would strikeout the side, all swinging, igniting a primal roar from the lefty and a jubilant celebration from the Nanners as they survived an insane game 9-7.
Some numbers that standout now that all the dust has settled:
Drew Yniesta had seven plate appearances, most notably getting plunked in the side of the head on the first pitch of the game, and then driving in runs in the second and eleventh innings on a groundout and a perfect swinging bunt.
Bryson Bloomer went 3-6, notching RBI’s on all three hits with his double in the first and singles in the fifth and twelfth innings.
Armando Becerra went 2-4, doubling and scoring in the second, singling in the seventh, and laying down a pair of sac bunts, the second of which was a suicide squeeze in the thirteenth inning that brough home the Bananas ninth and final run of the night.
Indiana Stanley and Beau Brewer both visited Josh, Classic Faith and Family Night, Talevski, and I in the booth in the fourth inning, and would both pinch hit in extra innings, each going 1-2 with massive RBI singles: Indy coming up clutch in the eleventh and Beau in the thirteenth.
There were superb pitching performance from Jones, Bradt, and Foray, but if any player gets the MVP trophy for the game it’s third year Banana, Nolan Daniel, who did exactly what he needed to do to send the game to extra innings and then keep the Bananas alive in the tenth, eleventh, and two-thirds of the twelfth innings. It was all smiles, as it usually is anyways, from the 6’5″ pride of Dublin, Georgia, after the game.
Here’s a pretty out there idea: Maybe we should pull an audible because of a credit card reading issue at Love’s, leave Dylan behind, go back to exit 51 where Nolan randomly runs into his little brother outside Dunkin’ Donuts, have Reginald, The Heart and Soul of the Savannah Bananas, Horton, order the exact same $5 Biggie Bag at Wendy’s that I order, and then stop back at Love’s off exit 49 to pickup Choy Foo and head to Macon for every game there! Or not, but as bizarre and funny of a bus ride as I can remember turned into as bizarre and incredible a game as I have ever seen the Bananas play, and of course all’s well that ends well in Bananaland.
The Nanners improved to a CPL best 9-2 on the summer and increased their lead over the surging Lexington County Blowfish to a game and a half with the win, while the Bacon lost their seventh straight ballgame, falling to 5-8 on the summer, five games behind Savannah in the West.
The guys welcome the Wilmington Sharks into Historic Grayson Stadium on Saturday night! The pregame show will kickoff at 6:00pm eastern and first pitch will be at 7:00pm eastern, and as always for Coastal Plain League games, it will be on Bananas Insiders!