A Simply Chaotic 6-2-5-3-4-6-8-3
Wednesday - March 10, 2010
Old-time baseball fans have heard of Tinkers to Evers to Chance, the legendary double-play combination of yesteryear. Well, in Hawaii, how about Garcia to Fujii to Kitamura to Macdonald to Wong to Garcia to Roquemore to Macdonald?
For those of you scoring at home, that’s 6-2-5-3-4-6-8-3.
Now there’s a double-play combination that should ring in the minds of baseball fans for years to come.
The six-player, seven-throw double-play occurred in the final game of the Hawaii-Oregon series on Feb. 28. It’s what baseball fans call a rundown or a pickle, in which runners get caught between the base paths and are eventually run down by the opposing fielders.
“We call it the ‘chaos play,’” says Rainbow head coach Mike Trapasso. “It’s pretty crazy when you see one of these crazy ones with an outfielder getting involved and multiple runners ... It’s rare that you would see the first baseman making both of the tag-outs.”
But that’s what happened - and chaos is a great word to describe it. Fortunately, the Rainbow fielders made it look like controlled chaos.
Here’s the situation: The Rainbows and Ducks were scoreless when Oregon got a runner to third with one out.
“We brought the infield in, and luckily got the batter to hit the ball on the ground, and the shortstop cut the runner down,” Trapasso says.
Shortstop Greg Garcia immediately recognized that the runner off third was caught in no man’s land between third and home, and he fired to catcher Kevin Fujii, while the batter took off toward first base. In the meantime, the Rainbow infielders went to work.
“We work on this on a regular basis,” Coach Trap says. “The key is to have the runner commit and to know your responsibilities. It’s also better to throw too early than too late. The hope is to get the runner in one throw, but when that doesn’t happen, we go into ‘chaos.’”
With the Oregon runner caught in a pickle, Hawaii players ran to their assigned places. Fujii ran the runner back toward third and tossed the ball to third baseman Pi’ikea Kitamura as Hawaii pitcher Sam Spangler ran in the direction of covering home plate as a backup, but was quickly replaced by first baseman Kevin Macdonald.
“You don’t want your pitcher involved if you don’t have to,” Trapasso says.
Kitimura then tossed the ball to Macdonald who applied the tag - one Duck down.
Meanwhile, the batter was screaming around first, hit second and over-committed toward third. As he tried to retreat to the safety of second base, Macdonald fired the ball to second baseman Kolten Wong, who chased the runner toward third base and flipped the ball to shortstop Garcia, who was covering that bag. Garcia then chased the runner back toward second, where centerfielder Matt Roquemore had come in to backup. Then, to put an exclamation point on the play, Macdonald raced down to third base as the new backup there, and received the throw from Roquemore to apply the tag for the final out.
Two Ducks down - “chaos” prevailed!
“We probably had a couple of times when we threw the ball too early,” Coach Trap says in review, but he was very happy with the result. “I guess the only thing we didn’t do correct is that we should have had the third baseman make the final tag. The key when you’re in that situation is don’t panic!”
The Rainbows didn’t, and the play became a double play to remember for all involved. It’s the type of play that baseball players practice from an early age.
“We all have memories of times when we were in Little League, playing with two fielders and a runner in between. When I was a kid, we used to call it ‘hot box.’” Monkey in the middle, pickle and caught in a rundown are other terms used.
“No question,” says Coach Trap, “it’s exciting.”
For Garcia to Fujii to Kitamura to Macdonald to Wong to Garcia to Roquemore to Macdonald again - it’s the pickle of a lifetime.
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