Lake Olmstead Stadium played host to 18 innings of baseball Sunday as the Augusta GreenJackets beat the Savannah Sand Gnats 1-0. The game set a season high in Augusta for number of innings and length of time played, but it wasn't the longest game in the stadium's history.
According to a story in the Aug. 16, 1996, edition of The Augusta Chronicle, the GreenJackets lost to the Asheville Tourists 2-1 in 19 innings in a game that started Aug. 14 and ended early the next morning. Asheville starter Scott Randle put together an unprecedented performance of skill and longevity by throwing 11 no-hit innings in the win, which lasted exactly five hours.
Augusta's marathon Sunday fell just short of that mark, lasting four hours and 35 minutes.
Though all of the players appeared tired after the game and at Monday's batting practice, GreenJackets catcher Tommy Joseph might have taken the worst the 18 innings had to offer. He was behind the plate for every inning and remained in the game despite taking a foul ball off the inside back part of his foot.
"I was tired. Around the 15th or 16th all I could do was just go out there and go through the motions," he said. "I tried to rest when I could and save my energy for when runners got on base. If there weren't any runners on base, I was just sitting back there hoping the pitch would come somewhere near where my glove was."
GreenJackets manager Dave Machemer gave Joseph the day off Monday.
RECORD CHECK : The GreenJackets and Sand Gnats just missed out on setting several South Atlantic League records in the 18-inning game, but the only confirmed league record broken went to Alonzo Harris. The Savannah second baseman recorded 13 assists, including his final two on an unassisted double play in the bottom of the 16th inning with the bases loaded and one out.
Harris' effort marked the most assists in a game for a second baseman in the league, breaking the record of 11 previously held by four different players.
IN AND OUT: Sharlon Schoop, who had missed four games with a strained hamstring, was plugged back into Augusta's starting lineup Monday. The starting shortstop was hitting .302 in 15 games for the GreenJackets before the injury and has played a key role in the team's record-setting pace of 45 double plays in 37 games played so far this season.
"I'm doing better," Schoop said before Monday's game. "I'm close to 100 percent now."
IN AND OUT, PART II : GreenJackets pitcher Jose Casilla , one of the more reliable relievers this season with a 1.71 ERA in 15 appearances, was placed on the disabled list Monday, Machemer said. The right-hander pitched scoreless and hitless ninth and 10th innings Sunday before leaving the game with a strained elbow.
Reliever Hector Correa returned from the disabled list and was available to pitch in Monday's game.
TWO AT THE TOP : Lost in the novelty of Sunday's 18-inning game was the importance of the series between the GreenJackets and Sand Gnats. Savannah entered the series with a three-game lead over Augusta in the league's Southern Division. The GreenJackets narrowed the gap to two games with Sunday's win.
The two teams will play six more times, including the remaining two games of their current series and a four-game series to wrap up the first half of the season June 17-20 at Lake Olmstead Stadium.
DIGNITARIES: Two members of the San Francisco Giants' organization have joined the GreenJackets this homestand.
Felipe Alou, a three-time all-star and 17-year major league veteran, arrived in town for Monday's game to observe the Giants' Single-A affiliate in his fourth season as a special assistant to the general manager for the Giants.
Shane Turner, the coordinator of minor league instruction for the Giants, is also spending the homestand with the GreenJackets.