2012: A Chiefs Odyssey – Kevin’s #6

6. The Negrych Who Stole A Hit

Now this was weird.

On July 6, the Chiefs swept the league-worst Louisville Bats in a doubleheader, 2-1 and 1-0.  That’s a nondescript beginning for sure – the Bats performed slightly better in 2012 than the remake of Total Recall.  So why was this twin bill so special?  Consider the following:

– The Chiefs’ finale in Louisville weeks beforehand had been washed out.  Since Syracuse only makes one trip to Louisville, the second game counted as an “away” game for Syracuse in their own ballpark.

– In Game One, the Chiefs escaped the fifth inning by inducing Joey Gathright, maybe the fastest runner in Triple-A, to hit into an inning-ending double play.  They then got out of the sixth inning on an RBI double – when Danny Dorn was thrown out at home plate.

– In the bottom of the seventh inning in that game, Chiefs second baseman Jim Negrych stepped up with two runners on and one out, hoping to hand Syracuse its first walkoff win of the season – in its 59th total game…

But then things got really, really weird in Game Two…

– Starting pitcher Jeff Mandel – in his first Triple-A start of the season – retired the first 11 batters he faced.  In fact, he served up a grand total of one baserunner – a Neftali Soto single – in his five innings of work.

– But one hit is better than no hits.  Despite facing right-hander Wirfin Obispo, who ended the game with a 5.52 ERA, Syracuse was no-hit through five innings.  They walked four times against Obispo, who threw a mere 44 strikes in 80 pitches, but couldn’t get a hit.  And in the sixth inning, Travis Webb also threw a hitless frame.

– So – the Chiefs, in their home ballpark, after the first two outs of the seventh inning, were one baserunner away from potentially being no-hit, since Louisville would have the final turn at bat.  But Negrych, he of the heroic Game One hit, inside-outed a double down the left-field line that slammed off of third base.  It won’t go on Jim’s personal highlight reel…

– …and neither will James Skelton’s result two batters later.  After an intentional walk of Seth Bynum, Skelton had a chance to play hero…

– That sent home Negrych with the Chiefs’ second hit, and the game’s first – and only – run.  In the least weird moment of the series, Christian Garcia would slam the door shut with a scoreless seventh, handing the Chiefs a bizarre doubleheader sweep.

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