Moment #9

05/09/2019 9:55 AM -

There are those days in a season where a traditional score book with that special baseball short hand is basically no help at all. Your score sheet looks like some pencil and ink water color at a special exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. You have pitch hitters and pitchers and plenty of runs and hits and just writing everywhere. There are erase marks and crossed out names. You score so much, you run out of space on the sheet. Tuesday, August 28, 2018 was one of those games. If you had a mechanical pencil, you were out of lead. My sheet was a mess after that day.

There were 4,268 students in the park that Tuesday morning for the 11:05 a.m. start at T-Bones Stadium. They were there on STEM Day to celebrate celebrate science, technology, engineering and math.  There may have never been a more fitting lesson taught to a school body than the one the great game of baseball taught that fine day. Students got a lesson in all those disciplines (and maybe even some extra credit!) in the 14-13 T-Bones walk off win over Sioux City.

By that point in the season, Sioux City came to the park following a Tuesday night win where they celebrated the division title and punched their ticket to the post season.  Kansas City was trying to hold off Wichita with the Wingnuts arriving for a pivotal series set to begin the next day. In the end, every game would mean so much down the stretch run. A loss here or there and the lead would go from one game to none. The playoff teams were not a forgone conclusion, and KC was fighting daily, watching the score board hoping to get in.

But let’s go back to STEM day and the class in session. The first discipline taught that afternoon (and the first letter in STEM) is the study of “Science”.
As I wrote that day:

"The “science” of it all is that the combination of the south winds blowing out and a baseball pitch up in the strike zone in the 85 to 95 mile an hour range results in balls leaving the ball park often when hit by wooden bats. The teams combined for eight home runs during that game, the first of which was a grand slam off Adam Bleday, hit over the mini monster in left field by Sioux City left fielder Blake Schmit to help give the X’s grab a six-run advantage in the top of the first."


The T-Bones had dug an early hole and looked to be in for a long day. Sioux City added another pair in the second, and it was 8-0. The day looked over, and Wichita had a chance later on to catch the T-Bones and move up in the standings.  The T-Bones chipped away with some help of the wind to plate three runs via the long ball. Then in the third, Sioux City made it 9-3 with a Michael Lang solo shot. The T-Bone nemesis hit the left field foul pole for a solo homer, and again that sinking feeling was setting in.
KC would chip away in the bottom of the fourth, highlighted by a two-run single to cut the lead to 9-6 in favor Sioux City. Anthony Phillips added a two-run home run in the fifth, and the T-Bones trailed by just one. But then Technology” was set to have a major impact on both sports. The American Association, as all leagues and teams do, puts out daily stats, and the T-Bones add a set of game notes for each game. Those notes for fans and media cover trends and headlines and help tell the story and make the game more understandable.

The two teams boasted the top two offensive batting averages. The Explores led the league in average, coming into that day at .304, with KC at .294 despite actually out hitting Sioux City 10-8 at this point in the game. That technology of the internet provided the research that told fans that the T-Bones were 49-10 when out hitting their opponents. That would have to wait as Jose Sermo hit a three-run home run to left, and the X’s manufactured a run when Dean Green was hit by a pitch, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and came home on a sac fly to make it 13-8.
More from that day:

“But now comes the “engineering” lesson as the T-Bones would engineer the comeback despite being down 13-8. In the seventh, the T-Bones got four more runs. Anthony Phillips would triple home Danny Hayes to get his third hit, one shy of the cycle, off Keith Picht, and the lead was cut to 13-9.  Phillips had a fourth inning double and a eighth inning single to complete the feat. Tucker Pennell hit a single to left center to score Phillips, and it was now 13-10.  Sioux City got the double play ball and looked to escape any more damage, but the engineering continued.  Mason Davis would walk, and Todd Cunningham and Colin Walsh would single to load the bases. With two outs and facing lefty Patrick Schuster, Noah Perio Jr. would drive in another two runs his fourth and fifth of the day (and his 23rd during that last week) to cut the lead to 13-12.”

The final piece of the lesson for the kids that day was the “mathematic” equation. Baseball is full of stats and averages, and the T-Bones taught the crowd one final lesson. One hit plus one hit plus another hit equals walk-off winner.

To start the bottom of the ninth off, Todd Cunningham singled off of X’s closer Eric Karch. Colin Walsh would then single back up the middle to put runners at first and second. Noah Perio Jr. then hit a line drive down the right field line, hitting the chalk to score Cunningham, and Walsh, who ran through a stop sign while the throw home was late, ended the game, and the T-Bones walked off winners! 
Again from the game story that day: 


“1+1+1 = T-Bones winners 14-13.”

It was the T-Bones 59th win, a new franchise high, and the T-Bones took two of three from Sioux City, the team they would face a week later in the first round of the American Association playoffs. The          T-Bones, who looked dead in the water several times, found a way to teach the kids a lesson that day and maintain a game lead over Wichita with six games still to play. The lesson is never to quit. That, kids, is the extra credit!
Dan Vaughan is the play by play voice of the Kansas City T-Bones. You can follow him on Twitter @DanVaughanjr and on the T-Bones broadcast on Mixlr.