By DOUG SMITH
Niagara Gazette — Since Texas Ranger heartbreak hurler Yu Darvish is just 27, he could, say, 11 years from now, carry a no-hitter into the late innings and find Micai Marble at bat. He might as well just toss Micai the ball and let him hit it out of his hand, for if anybody knows how to shatter a dream, it’s the infielder-pitcher for the Hyde Park Tigers.
Some hearts sailed and others sank Friday at Packard Court when Marble, after fouling several pitches in a disciplined at-bat, lofted a single to right with Cayuga’s Justin Stickney one out shy of a no-hitter in the City Championship. Wednesday, Marble had broken up a less pristine no-hitter; Cayuga already had two runs when he tripled to right in the fourth. (Cataract Classic games are carded for six innings.)
In that game, Marble was a true triple threat, with a sensational catch at first base and an inning-plus of shutout relief to accompany a 2-2-2-4 batting line.
Other memories of three awesome August eves:
• Stickney’s dominance, a total of 25 strikeouts and two walks in nine innings.
• Hyde Park’s alert defense in the semi-final’s fourth inning, holding hard-hitting Whirlpool to two runs. Play of the day: Pitcher John Blevins calmly collecting a popup that had fallen to his feet and flipping to catcher Ben Graham, who had held his ground for a force, remarkable recognition for youngsters.
• Midtown’s valiant comeback vs. the eventual champs in the semi-final, featuring Corey Sanders’ two hits and little Darrell Hill’s left-field trackdown of a lethal fly ball.
• Fashion award to the woman in the black feathered hat.
• No dogs. Never before saw a poochless game at Packard Court.
• Mayor Paul Dyster disdaining the microphone while giving both sides a personal post-game pep talk on friendship.
• And the music critic among the throng advising the anthem singer “Get a new recording!”
Congratulations, Cayuga. It wasn’t always great baseball, but it was always a great time.
ZOMBIE BALL: If the Bisons narrowly miss the playoffs, blame it on Thursday’s Zombie Matinee.
The Herd up 2-0 in the fifth, one on, one out, Red Wing catcher Eric Fryer ripped a grounder to third, sure-fire formula for a double play. But Jim Negrych threw wildly to second, Ryan Goins leaping to save it for a single force out. Fryer, surviving at first, broke for second; Mike Nickeas’ threw beat him but the ball skipped away. Killed twice, the undead Fryer still loomed at second and before the inning ended, the Wings had put up three.
Negrych had a terrible game, a charged error and five outs in four at-bats. Not so newcomer Brad Glenn, whose historic homer in his first at-bat sailed over the sign honoring the legendary Ollie Carnegie. And Justin Germano lost a complete game, pitching 75 strikes in 102 throws.
The stats suggested victory; the Zombies said, not so fast.
Doug Smith offers his takes on baseball every Monday with Base Paths. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.Doug Smith offers his takes on baseball every Monday with Base Paths. Send him an email at email@example.com.