Conley Plays Hero in Hectic Exhibition Win Against Elmira
The Elmira Pioneers have played against the Muckdogs already five times in the two weeks of PGCBL action. So much familiarity with one another creates a chippy atmosphere, especially in a game that does not count towards either team’s overall record.
Monday night was the second of several exhibition games that Batavia will play this season, but the first that was a member of the PGCBL as the Mansfield Destroyers play in the NYCBL.
Skipper Tony Martinez used the friendly as an opportunity to have some of his platoon players get extra at-bats to gain some confidence if their number needs to be called during the marathon of the Perfect Game season. Elmira did not take the game as seriously, penciling in four pitchers to hit in the lineup and play in the field.
Due to thunderstorms and hard rain, first pitch was an hour after the originally scheduled 7:05 PM start time. Moods for players on both sides seemed positive during the delay, as over two dozen used the tarp covering the infield as a slip-and-slide.
Batavia struck first in the bottom of the first as Cameron Conley came around to score after his leadoff triple when Daniel Burroway smacked a double into the gap. Pioneer pitcher Peter Theodorellis settled in nicely starting in the second, striking out eight of his next 10 batters faced.
Down 1-0 in the third, Elmira pitcher Logan Jones (who was playing left field) hit a looping single and later scored after a failed first and third play by the Muckdogs. The Pios would tack on two more runs to go up 3-1, as the Elmira dugout started to chirp Batavia for being up. Kyle Kohlhafer started on the mound for the Dogs striking out seven batters in four innings while allowing three runs.
Elmira would score two more runs in the sixth, as left-handed pitcher George Osbourne walked in Theodorellis and second basemen/pitcher Ethan Buckley. This is when the Elmira bench started saying disrespectful phrases to Skip Martinez and Assistant Coach Tony Brewington. Both Martinez and Brewington left their dugout on the third baseline along with the rest of the Muckdog roster to confront the Pioneers who then decided to make obscene gestures towards the coaches.
The game looked like it was going to get out of control, but Elmira did not want to leave the comfort of the dugout, so the game continued. Martinez then decided in the eighth inning that regardless if the game counted towards their record he wanted to win against their new rival.
Down 5-1 outfielder Abner Benitez came in as a pinch hitter and reached via a line-drive single. Conley would follow Benitez and have his second extra base hit of the evening, creating a prime position for the Muckdogs to chip away at the lead. Benitez would score on a wild pitch, and Burroway brought in Conley to make it a 5-3 game.
Relief pitcher Trey Bacon kept the deficit at two after his second straight 1-2-3 frame, setting up another scenario for the Dogs to come back in the ninth. Oberlin College pitcher Zach Bayfield came in for the save opportunity, facing pinch hitter Jerry Reinhart, Luis Rodriguez, and Caden Walton. All three Muckdogs reached via the free pass with no outs in the inning.
After Bacon flew out to shortstop Ryess Youmans for the first out, Abner Benitez hit his second single to cut the Elmira lead to one. With bases loaded and one out, Cameron Conley stepped into the box with a chance to have the Muckdogs first walk-off win of the season. In a 2-2 count, Conley ripped an outside pitch that went under the glove of first basemen David Ferguson to score both Rodriguez and pinch-runner Ethan Frasca.
As the team chased after Conley, more words were said between the two teams before going to their clubhouses. Elmira and Batavia play one another nine more times in the 2021 season, which includes Tuesday night’s game at Dunn Field.
Batavia still sits at 5-5 with the chance to be tied with Elmira in the Western division standings with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 on Super Hero Night! The game between the bitter rivals can be viewed on Youtube Live by subscribing to BataviaMuckdogBaseball. Make sure to follow our Twitter @BataviaMuckdogs and liking our Facebook Page, “BataviaMuckdogBaseball.”