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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Great game. A reporter's nightmare.

What was one of the more blah high school games I've ever witnessed turned into one of the most exciting finishes Wednesday night in the SBCA All-Star game won by Monmouth over Ocean in the bottom of the 10th inning at First Energy Park, 6-4 on Vin Avella's home run.

And it nearly became a reporter's nightmare (mine).

Since Steve Falk is the NJSIAA Classification guru for therPress/Observer he was handling that story while I covered the game.
In an instance like this I try to write two leads if possible, one with an Ocean County slant for the Observer (if Ocean loses) and the other with a Monmouth slant if Monmouth wins.

Sooooo..there I was..in the FirstEnergy press box with a 10:30 p.m. dealine approaching, munching on my cold french fries, and Monmouth leading going into the ninth, 4-0.

So, both angles are written and I need to fill in some quotes and I'm in pretty good shape. Assuming Ocean was about to lose and be shutout no less I was going to talk to Panoski of Ocean on starting the game since he threw two scoreless innings and was really Ocean's lone bright spot.
For Monmouth I planned to chat with Mike Daly of Monmouth Regional who had doubled and tripled and scored two runs.

So much for the best laid plans. Next thing I know it's 4-2, Monmouth is changing pitchers in a blur and Casey Gaynor is up with two on and two out.

Now I'm thinking..if Casey hits a HR he wins the game with the bat and would be the winning pitcher as well having entered the game in relief in the 7th inning. Good story!!

But Casey grounds to short and..Monmouth boots it. Now it's 4-3. Next batter is Jay Frank. Please understand. I don't care who wins. I need the game to be over in nine.

Frank singles....tie game. Gasp!

Now Pat Cohen is up with runners on second and third. OK Pat. I need a hit here. He grounds out.

Groan.
Bottom of the ninth. Monmouth is not touching Gaynor. He strikes out the side. Deadlines are being blown.

Top of the 10th..unheralded Joe Florentine of Squan sets Ocean down in order. Bottom of the 10th. Gaynor done after his limit of three overpowering innings. Mike Doherty hits a hard ground ball to short. It's thrown away. I'm trying to make heads and or tails out of a disaster of my score book.
Suddenly ...BOOM! It's gone. Over the left field fence. I'm on the phone with Falk. "Gotta go" I screech. Ball game. One little porblem. Who hit it? Darned if I know. I can't make out the number of the player. As I jump in the elevator and rush through the stands to the dugout fans are asking me.."Who hit it.?" Weren't they paying attention? Heck..I was gonna ask them.

I get to the Monmouth dugout and ask Ryan Cuneo..."Who hit it?" "Vin Avella,'' he said. "'Did he re-enter," I ask. ""He never came out of the game,''Cuneo said.
Hmmmmm. News to me. I thought he came out after the fifth inning. Well, at least Cuneo was paying attention.
Avella emerges from the dugout for a quick interview. I mean, real quick. Nice kid. Good quotes. Wish I could have used half of them.

Then it's across the field to the Ocean dugout for a few (very few) quotes from Bill Frank, Ocean coach. Then it's back in the elevator..back up stairs to finish the story of this Tuesday thriller.
Wait. It's Wednesday. "Hello, desk. It's Tuesday, not Wednesday."

After the game I run into Monmouth coach Ted Jarmusz. So coach, give me the inside strategy there in the ninth inning. Matchups? Tired arms? Lefty-lefty? The inside scoop, coach.??

""No strategy at all,'' he said. "I was just trying to get everyone in the game." Thanks a lot. Was there no regard for my deadline.???

As it turns out Monmouth got all 31 of its player into action.
Ocean? Not sure. According to my scorebook they used about 50 players. A neat trick since they only had about 24.


Whew! What a way to end the season....It turned out to be a heck of a game on Tuesday, er Wednesday, er Thursday. Who hit the home run again? Vin Scully???

What a night!

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