On a night featuring pitching mastery for nine innings at Kindrick Legion Field, culminating with a pair of home runs in the 10th frame, the Pioneer League game’s final outcome was decided by an appeal play.
Trailing the Missoula Osprey 2-0 in the bottom of the 10th, with one on and two out, Helena Brewer Raul Mondesi Jr. cranked what would have been a game-tying homer over the left field fence.
After Mondesi crossed home plate — or did he — and was greeted by celebratory teammates, Osprey pitcher Dexter Price flipped the ball to catcher Michael Perez, who stepped on home for an appeal.
The home plate umpire raised and pumped his right fist, signifying that Mondesi had missed the plate and was out, ending the game in a 2-1 win for Missoula.
Mondesi was officially credited with a triple.
“Did he miss home plate? You tell me, because I don’t know, I didn’t see it,” said Helena manager Jeff Isom, on his way back to the clubhouse, after a long discussion with the umpire.
“On any home run, the umpire has one job, and that’s to watch the plate and make sure the runners touch it. He said he (Mondesi) missed it by eight inches.”
Isom said it was one of the craziest endings to a game he’s been a part of, and the first time in his 13 years of managing that’s he’s seen a home run taken away from a batter.
“It’s a terrible way to lose a ballgame, but the guys learned a good lesson. From now on, make sure you jump on the plate on a homer,” he added.
The majority of the game belonged to the pitchers, who were hotter than the 93 degree temperature at first pitch and the fire that was burning in the Scratchgravels.
Missoula starter Andrew Barbosa took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, which was broken up by Emmanuel Quiles’ single on the first pitch of the inning.
The 6-foot-8, 205-pound Barbosa, a lefthander who hails from Riverview, Fla., went six innings and allowed one hit, with five strikeouts and one walk.
His counterpart, the hosts’ Eric Semmelhack, matched him pitch-for-pitch. Semmelhack worked seven scoreless frames, giving up two hits — both to Pedro Ruiz — while striking out five and walking none.
Osprey relievers Michael Rivera and Dexter Price combined for four innings, permitting four hits and fanning five.
Yonki Hernandez had the Brewers’ lone multi-hit game, with a pair of singles. He was the man on base ahead of Mondesi’s non-homer.
Brewer reliever Manuel Ruiz, who sustained the loss, went 2.1 innings, striking out five and giving up just one hit. But it was a big one — a two-run bomb by Tyler Linton that cleared the left-field fence by about 25 feet.
“Our pitchers were throwing brilliantly,” Isom said. “Semmelhack was keeping the ball down, he has three pitches he can throw for strikes.
“And Ruiz just made one mistake. He left the pitch in the strike zone, and that’s what happens when you do that against a good hitter.”
The game included several defensive gems, markedly by the Osprey’s Ruiz at shortstop, and Helena second sacker Adrian Williams.
There was also a near-brawl in the top of the 10th, ironically after the sun went down and a slight breeze actually cooled down the playing field.
After Linton’s long ball, Ruiz plunked Daniel Pulfer with a pitch, and when the Osprey batter took several steps towards the mound, the benches and bullpens from both sides charged out on the field.
But peace was restored shortly afterwards without any punches being thrown.
“We two managers got together with the umpires, and we made it clear that neither of us desired any ill-will; that we wanted to put the incident behind us and get back to the game,” Isom explained.
“It was a great comeback by us, to tie it up like that. But then not to get it is a shame. I’m headed for the clubhouse right now, and am going to watch the replay (of the home plate call), and see for myself.”
NOTE: Helena has stolen eight bases in the last two games.
Curt Synness: 594-2878 or firstname.lastname@example.org