After nine hours, 12 innings and three delays, Kutztown (Pa.) University's baseball team was relieved to put away a 2-1 victory over Franklin Pierce in the opening round of the Division II baseball tournament on Sunday.
"If we would have lost that game, it would have been the worst baseball day of my life," said Kutztown redshirt junior right fielder Mike Dugan, an Ocean City High School graduate. "I was going crazy."
The Golden Bears (42-13) will play the University of Southern Indiana (49-13) today at 7 p.m. in the second round of the double-elimination tournament at the USA Baseball Complex in Cary, N.C. Sunday's win was Kutztown's first in the NCAA tournament since 2002.
The first pitch of Sunday's game was thrown at 1:03 p.m. and the game moved quickly. However, at the end of the eighth inning, which was just after 3 p.m., it went into its first weather delay.
Sixty-eight minutes later, the game was back on.
The worst of it occurred in the 10th inning when lightning struck. In NCAA baseball, a game cannot resume for at least 30 minutes following a lightning strike. On Sunday, the rain and lightning kept coming, leading to a four-hour delay.
"You try to maintain your focus, but it's an uphill battle," said Kutztown pitcher Trevor Rosenberg, an Oakcrest High School graduate from the Sweetwater section of Mullica Township. "It's not even fair that we all had to go through that. You just try and find things to do."
The final delay lasted just 24 minutes when a power surge knocked out most of the lights in the stadium.
The last pitch was delivered at 10:14 p.m. In the end, the teams spent 5 hours and 38 minutes in delays.
They spent part of the time on the bus, but most of the delay was spent in the dugout. Dugan attempted to sleep on a dugout bench, using his glove as a pillow.
Rosenberg and a few teammates sent messages across to the Franklin Pierce dugout by writing on baseballs and tossing them across field. The two teams joked with each other about the delay.
To entertain themselves, the players mimicked different delivery styles, such as pretending the ball was a grenade, or hitting it off a golf tee to get it to the other dugout.
They tried to find anything to do to stave off boredom during the strange conditions.
"It was one of the weirdest, longest delays I have even been a part of," Rosenberg said. "We tried to do different things just to keep our mind off what was going on."
Tournament officials provided pizza for the players during the delay, while other players hit the concession stands for food.
Through it all, there was still a game to play.
Dugan, an Upper Township resident, scored the Golden Bears' first run. In the second inning, he singled, stole a base and scored on an error. This season, he's hitting .367 with 47 RBIs, 49 runs and 11 stolen bases.
"I was a redshirt during my freshman year the last time we made the tournament, so I didn't get to participate in it," Dugan said. "It feels great to be here with my teammates and contribute and make a difference."
Rosenberg, a redshirt junior, appeared in 11 games this year with six starts, but did not see action in Sunday's game. However, Kutztown had to go through four pitchers in the win and he could pitch today. He has a 5.77 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 34 innings.
The team had plenty of time to rest after what was likely the longest game any of them have played - even though Dugan was awakened at 11:30 a.m. on Monday morning by a hotel maid taking the cover off his bed.
They probably won't forget this crazy trip.
"I couldn't fall back asleep after that," Dugan said, "but I was well-rested by that point."
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