Game 128: York 6, Bridgeport 2

In the Atlantic League, a revolving-door approach strips a team of any continuity or sense of togetherness.

Just when you’re feeling secure, an affiliated organization scoops up your starting third baseman. The next thing you know, a key pitcher heads to Mexico or Taiwan. And you’re right back where you started — waiting for the next shoe to drop and introducing your latest acquisition to the men left behind.

But if anyone was looking for proof that the 25 men in the York Revolution clubhouse share a special bond, the evidence came in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s 6-2 win over Bridgeport at Sovereign Bank Stadium.

Bluefish pitcher Jeff Tam threw a pitch directly at Kennard Jones’ head that narrowly missed him. That came after Tam had plunked Jose Enrique Cruz square in the back with a fastball in the previous at-bat. The missile aimed at Jones’ head was apparently payback for Jones (pictured) running too vigorously during the late innings of a 12-0 blowout win Tuesday, according to Revolution manager Chris Hoiles.

Jones then rose to his feet to find Tam, 38, barking in his face and attempting a punch. And after Jones threw his helmet off in anger, outfielder Matt Esquivel, a running back who planned to walk on to the University of Nebraska in his younger days, came barreling out of the dugout like a free safety and landed a hit to Tam with his body.

The whole incident eventually caused the ejections of Tam (pictured) and Bridgeport’s Steven Doetsch, as well as Jones, Esquivel and Matt Padgett — who aided Esquivel in the brawl. But nearly every York player was smack in the middle of the chaos and the Revs’ dugout emptied again with incredible energy after Keoni De Renne (4-for-4 with three runs scored) lined a three-run homer into the right field seats off Matt Pike, Tam’s replacement.

York (33-25, 63-65), which is now 3½ games ahead in the Freedom Division, has one game remaining this year with Bridgeport (29-29, 62-66) Thursday night.

“It’s bull—— to throw at somebody’s head like he did tonight just for that (running too hard on a full count),” said Hoiles, who also said Tam admitted to Jones that the pitch thrown at him was intentional. “If it’s something a lot worse than that, if he cleans somebody out at second base clearing out a double play, that might warrant something.

“… Just running hard on a 3-2 count, if that’s what it was, which I think it is, it’s absolute bull——. Maybe he wasn’t throwing at his head (intentionally), but that’s where he threw it.”

Jones said he was amazed at how quickly the situation escalated and he admitted he really didn’t know what was happening after he hit the dirt. The outfielder got off his backside to find Tam, a former major league pitcher, mere feet from him.

“The thing for me, I really appreciate my teammates,” Jones said. “We’re a family and when something goes down like that you don’t want to be out there by yourself. The way our team reacted as a whole. … For me, I was happy that my teammates came out there and supported me.”

The brawl will likely merit suspensions and Atlantic League Executive Director Joe Klein will travel to York Thursday to hear both teams’ side of the argument.

The entire incident overshadowed what was an incredible game. Rolando Viera fired 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball, with Travis Phelps picking up the win with 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Matt Dryer also contributed with a bases-loaded walk that tied the game in the fifth and he also put the Revs ahead with an RBI single in the seventh. And of course there was De Renne’s big night, which came in front of his family visiting him in York.

“I know my adrenaline was going a bit because of the whole incident that happened before,” De Renne said of the big hit after the brawl. “But I had to calm down and I tried not to do too much. … I wanted to put a good swing on it and the main thing was to get us one more run.”

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3 Responses

  1. It wasn’t like this team wasn’t a solid team before the bean-ball. This team started to gel at the end of the 1st half. You can see it when you look into the dugout. They’re all into it in every game. Watch Corey Thurman….he’s got to be the tallest cheerleader in the world..and the first on out there with a high five. The last thing a pitcher wants to do is go after one of ouor guys. When Keoni put that ball in orbit last night (is it still in the air?) I thought the ballpark and the Revs were going to explode. I’ve seen a lot of big innings and a lot of big reaction…..but last night tops them all. Until the next one! Tam’s pitch probably made the team even stronger.

  2. Just to be clear, I wasn’t suggesting the brawl brought the team together. I was just saying it proved how close the guys are — that Padgettt was willing to run into a sea of Bluefish to support Esquivel.

    Frankly, York has been very lucky affiliated signings and injuries have not wrecked this team. The main core (Aspito, Dryer, Esquivel, Padgett, Thurman, Rakers, etc.) has been together all season. That’s incredibly rare for the Atlantic League.

  3. I heard Kaz even went out. That should be added as some sort of Editor’s note to your piece about his heart.

    Inactive, in fact for all intents and purposes gone from the team, and still mixing it up in support of his former team. That’s whats up!

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