Thursday was the wackiest night of the year at AT&T Field, and it set a league standard.
Huntsville’s 3-1 victory over Chattanooga in 14 innings took 4 hours and 53 minutes to complete, making it the longest game of the year in the Southern League. Mobile needed 18 innings to defeat visiting Jacksonville on May 25, but it was over in 4:46.
Chattanooga starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi flirted with a no-hitter and Huntsville manager Mike Guerrero protested the game more than three hours before Hainley Statia’s two-run double to left-center field in the 14th proved to be the difference.
“For a little while you think it’s going to be a no-hitter and that it’s going to be the world’s shortest game, but that’s just the way baseball goes,” Lookouts owner Frank Burke said. “I did not expect to be here at 12:30 in the morning, but there are worse places I could be.”
Thursday’s game was the longest at AT&T Field in more than five years.
Lookouts left fielder Scott Van Slyke called it “for sure the strangest one we’ve had this year,” and who’s to argue when you consider the following:
• Of the 24 active players on each team, Chattanooga used 18 and Huntsville 17.
Starting pitchers Will Savage, Michael Antonini and Allen Webster were among the Lookouts who never got in, but Chris Withrow, who started Tuesday night’s game, had a pinch-hit single to right in the 11th inning.
• Van Slyke, who admits to loathing extra innings, extended the game two innings with a two-out single to left in the 12th that scored Elian Herrera and tied the game 1-1.
“I was just trying to get something to put in play and hopefully find a hole,” he said, “and that’s what happened.”
• The 4:53 time of game does not include a 13-minute stretch after Guerrero filed his protest to the umpires. During that time, Guerrero kept his players from coming to the plate in the top of the eighth inning, and Lookouts counterpart Carlos Subero had his players leave their positions in the field.
Dusty Dellinger, the evaluator of all 45 Double-A umpires, said a protest is similar to a brawl or a long injury and should not have been separated from the overall time of game. Therefore the game should have been 5:06, making it the longest in AT&T Field history.
• Eovaldi had a no-hitter through six innings and was taken out of the game before his plate appearance in the bottom of the seventh. He departed with the game two hours old, yet there would be three more to go.
“It was pretty entertaining,” Eovaldi said. “It’s hard to describe. It feels like I almost didn’t pitch this game.”
• According to league rules, any game that requires an inning to start after 12:50 a.m. local time must be halted and resumed the next day or at a later date. An exception is when the two teams are playing their final game of the season at a location.
Thursday was the final meeting between Huntsville and Chattanooga at AT&T Field, so were it not for Statia’s smack to left-center, the game might still be going.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...