PITTSFIELD -- In Wahconah Park's long history, just about everything that can happen on a baseball field happened.
But there's a first time for everything.
Right after the benches emptied following a questionable hard slide by Pittsfield Suns baserunner Jimmy Ricoy against second baseman Andrew Barry in the eighth inning, Martha's Vineyard manager Ernie May pulled his Sharks off the field. He put them on their bus, forcing the game to be suspended.
"As a league, we have made a decision to suspend until we have a meeting [today]," Suns manager Jamie Keefe said late Thursday night. The Suns were leading 5-1 at the time the suspension was declared. They had a runner on third with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Presumably, the game will be completed on Monday when the Sharks make a return visit to Wahconah Park.
"That's my first bench clearing I've been a part of," said Suns starting pitcher Matt Timoney. "I don't know why they didn't finish the game. I was confused by that."
There was little confusion in the mind of May, who said he made the move as a precaution.
"[Ricoy] cleared the second baseman out on sort of a barrel roll play at second and exceeded past the bag. It should have been an automatic double play," May said before boarding the bus. "I'm more concerned about player safety. I thought [the umpires] didn't have a resolution when I went out to talk to them about it.
Ricoy was gunned down at second after he hit an RBI single to plate Ryan Deitrich and make the score 5-1. Running on the play, Brendan Slattery went from first to third. Sharks' first baseman Apolinar De La Cruz cut off the throw from center and threw back to Barry, who had Ricoy out by a couple of steps.
The "barrel roll" slide caused the two combatants to push a little and bark, and before you knew it, both benches emptied.
"I thought our guys might retaliate and throw at them and they might retaliate and throw at us," May said. "It becomes a player safety issue. I'm not going to watch kids get hit. It's not worth it."
There was confusion among the remaining members of the announced crowd of 715, among the players on the field and with the Suns coaching staff.
"You have guys busting their butts and the manager pulls them from the field. What are you going to do?" Keefe said. "They want to finish the game. The umpires want to finish the game and we want to finish the game. He feels it's a safety reason, and he's trying to protect his guys."
Keefe did have a postgame meeting with his players to discuss what happened.
However this game is finally scored, it was a good comeback effort for Timoney.
The right-hander from Harvard, who gave up five runs on five hits in seven innings during his last start, gave up an unearned run on six hits in seven innings. He pitched out of two bases-loaded jams. The Sharks didn't score either time. He walked three and struck out one.
Catcher Steve Dill, who caught Timoney at Harvard, said the righty didn't have his best stuff. The pitcher concurred.
"In the beginning, I just wasn't feeling it, so you just have to bear down and challenge hitters more," said Timoney. "You can't try to hit your spot perfectly. You have to go right after guys."
Martha's Vineyard starter Ryan Brockett, the reigning Futures League pitcher of the week, was coming off pitching eight perfect innings in his last outing. Thursday night, he retired the first six batters before walking Tito Marrero on a 3-2 pitch to open the third.
That led to a three-run, three-hit inning. The key hit came off the bat of Ryan Deitrich, who ripped a two-run single up the middle.
The Sharks return to Wahconah Park on Monday night.
"If Ernie can get all of his guys on the same page, I'm not worried about it," said Keefe. "We'll go out and play a good baseball game."