West Michigan WhiteCaps at Burlington Bees

June 4th, 2002

Juan Francia 2B 4 1 1 0
Juan Gonzalez SS 4 1 1 2
David Mattle LF 4 0 0 0
Juan Tejeda 1B 4 0 1 0
Alfredo Lugo 3B 3 0 1 0
Don Kelly DH 3 1 0 0
Chris Kolodzey RF 3 0 0 0
Mike Scott RF 1 0 0 0
Sam Anderson C 3 0 1 1
Jason Knoedler CF 3 0 0 0
James Shanks CF 4 0 0 0
Odannys Ayala LF 3 1 1 1
Ruben Gotay 2B 3 0 2 2
Galinda Gomez 3B 3 0 0 0
Jonathan Guzman RF 4 0 1 0
Matt Cleveland DH 3 0 0 1
Anibal Figuereo 1B 1 0 0 0
Chris Fallon 1B 3 1 1 0
John Draper C 3 1 1 0
Alex Rodriguez SS 2 1 0 0

West Michigan 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 5 1
Burlington 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 X 4 6 2

E-Francia, Gomez 2, LOB WM-4, BUR-6, 2B-Ayala, Fallon, HR-Gonzalez (Tierney), SB-Francia, CS-Kelly, Gomez, HBP-Gotay, SACB-Lugo, Rodriguez

Name IP H R ER BB SO Decison
Matt Coenen 7.1 6 4 2 1 7 L (7-2)
John Birtwell 0.2 0 0 0 2 1 ND

Name IP H R ER BB SO Decison
Chris Tierney 6.2 4 3 0 1 2 ND
Jorge Vasquez 2.1 1 0 0 0 3 W (1-1)
HB-Coenen, WP-Coenen, SO-Francia, Mattle, Tejeda, Kolodzey, Knoedler, Shanks 3, Gomez, Guzman 2, Figuereo, Fallon, BB-Kelly, Ayala, Gomez, Cleveland
T-2:34, A-1,160

Burlington Hawk Eye
by John Bohnenkamp

West Michigan pitcher John Birtwell tried to slip the third strike past Burlington Bees designated hitter Matt Cleveland seven times in the eighth inning of Tuesday's game.

Seven times Cleveland fouled off the pitch.

Finally, Birtwell threw a pitch that the aggressive Cleveland laid off.

Ball four, a win for the Bees.

Cleveland's bases loaded walk capped a four run inning as the Bees battled back for a 4-3 win over the WhiteCaps in a Class A Midwest League game at Community Field.

The win gave the Bees (29-28) a split of their four game series with the WhiteCaps, a split they didn't appear to be close to getting after struggling at the plate for the first seven innings against West Michigan starter Matt Coenen.

"We stole one, but sometimes you do that in this game." Bees manager Joe Szekely said.

"This was a huge win," Cleveland said, "But that's what this team does, We never give up."

The Bees, who didn't get a baserunner to third base in the first seven innings, finally got to Coenen in the eighth.

Chris Fallon led off the inning with a double, then stayed at second on John Draper's infield single. Alex Rodriguez laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, but was safe at first when second baseman Juan Francia dropped the throw.

One out later, Odannys Ayala drew a walk to bring in Fallon with the first run.

"You get a crack in the door, then you stick your foot in there and open it wider." Szekely said.

Ruben Gotay then followed with a two run single to tie the game and chase Coenen. Galinda Gomez walked to load the bases, but Birtwell was able to strike out Jonathan Guzman for the second out.

Cleveland came to the plate and worked the count to first 1-0, then 2-1. Birtwell got a second strike, then the battle began.

Cleveland fouled off pitch after pitch, fighting off some of Birtwell's best pitches.

"That's what I've been working on." Cleveland said, "At the start of the year. I was striking out too much. I just started working on fighting off pitches with two strikes."

"Birtwell threw me some pitches a little out of the strike zone, but those were too close to take. i was just trying to protect the plate."

Cleveland then coaxed a third ball out of Birtwell. After two more foul balls, Birtwell threw a high fastball out of the zone.

Ball four. Ayala walked home with what would prove to be the winning run.

"Unbelievable at bat," Szekely said, "When we talk about quality at bats, that was it."

"He was throwing me fastballs and I kept fighting them off." Cleveland said, "The last one wasn't even close."

All of West Michigan's runs were unearned because of two errors by Gomez.

Gomez had a two out throwing error in the third that allowed Francia to reach base. Juan Gonzalez followed with a two run home run off Bees starter Chris Tierney.

"He hit a pretty good pitch." Szekely said.

Gomez had a two out fielding error on a ground ball from Chris Kolodzey in the seventh that put runners at first and second. Sam Anderson followed with a single that made it 3-0.

Jorge Vasquez (1-1) got the win in relief for the Bees. Coenen (7-2) was charged with the loss.

Gomez's throwing error in the third proved costly for the Bees in another way. Francia collided with Bees first baseman Anibal Figuereo, who had to stretch for the throw. Figuereo injured his left elbow and had to leave the game, although the extent of the injury was not known after the game. Fallon replaced Figuereo in the lineup.