The Top 3 Games of 2012 – Nos. 1 and 2

by Ben Catley

(NOTE: I apologize for the delay in getting this out. Let’s just say that I’ve run into problems with (1) Getting back into the blog (and, of all things, it was a missing 1 in the land of 1s and 0s that solved the problem!) and (2) the audio accompaniant … which will get added soon.)

Ahh … now the debate is sure to begin. We have already revealed the five nominated games that did not make the top two, including the No. 3 game as selected by our fans and a panel of experts. Now it’s time to reveal the order of the other two.

If you missed it, the two games we have not revealed in our countdown – September 5, 2012 and September 14, 2012. The fans split on these two – the Bird Droppings poll had September 5 come out on top, while the MissoulaOsprey.com poll went to September 14.

Which means, it came down to our panel. And they sided with one set of fans, although it was not unanimous.

So, without further adieu, here’s the order in which they ended up…

No. 2 – September 14, 2012 – Pioneer League Championship Series, Game 3. Game Story/Highlights (Coming soon)/MiLB Story

There is one thing I like about Game No. 82. It’s it. You cannot go beyond No. 82. Not at least the way the league is structured now.

This was the second Game No. 82 I have had the privledge to call. The first was Game 3 of the 2009 PBL Championship Series, at home against Orem, who would go on to win that game, 13-10, but not without a six-run ninth-inning rally from a team which had pulled plenty of rabbits out of their hat during the season.

Yet, as I watehced the top of the first inning transpire in Ogden on September 14, I knew the game had a chance of being over right then and there. And I wasn’t the only one.

The Raptors’ best pitcher, Ross Stripling, had just been shelled for five runs in the top of the first inning – he allowed six runs all regular season – and by the body english given off by the Ogden nine, it looked bleak for the home team.

What decided this game, though, was Yoimer Camacho, who looked more like an ace in the playoffs rather than a youngster who would get shelled, as he did for a good chunk of August. He was a little shaky at first, but stranded five runners on base in his first two innings, and it was pretty much over.

Once Jake Lamb did some yardwork in the top of the fourth, hitting a two-run homer to right, any thoughts of a rally disappeared from my mind. You could tell that was the final nail. And, just in case there was another one needed, Yosbel Gutierrez sent a two-run shot deep into the Ogden night, the O’s would add another run later, and the deal was done.

And so is a look at Game #2 … now on to Game #1.

No. 1 – September 5, 2012 – Billings at Missoula. Game Story/Highlights (coming soon)
Of my first six seasons calling Osprey baseball, and this is hard to say, this game was one of the most anxietry-filled games I have been a part of. More than the August 11 tilt between these two teams, because in that one, it was a game. This was for the season.

This was the first of two must-win games for the Osprey to round out the season. It was either win on this night or get the highlight reel ready for the final broadcast of the season. Which, we did anyway, but still …

Personally, I felt good about it because I felt like if the Osprey could win this game, they would also come out and win the next night and head to the playoffs. Unlike my colleague, who actually talked about “we’ll have our pre-game interview for Friday’s Game 1 of the playoffs” (I’m paraphrasing here) on his Thursday pre-game show … I wasn’t about to crow about anything.

It was also a great duel between two strong pitchers. Chris Thomas had been one of two additions for the Osprey which made a difference down the stretch, and had the start for Missoula. On the other side, the improving Drew Cisco for the Billings Mustangs, who had some success against the Osprey earlier in the summer – just not with the team, which lost in both games he started against Missoula.

The Osprey would fall behind – a familiar theme in the games against the Mustangs we highlighted in the poll (9-0 on August 11 and 6-0 on August 30). On this night, though, it was quite closer. Billings would get a run off of Thomas on a Jesse Winker home run in the top of the third, and another after Brandon Dailey, off of reliever Chris Capper, for a 2-0 Mustangs lead.

That other addition, Alex Glenn, would make his presence known the rest of the game. Glenn joined the Osprey after outfielder Ty Linton tore a ligament in his left knee, putting him out for the rest of the regular season. Glenn may have landed here anyway, but it was that fateful injury – which came on a take-out slide as Linton was trying to break up a double play at second base – which put Glenn in position to make an impact.

Just a few days earlier, Glenn hit what in the game-sense was a meaningless home run in the top of the ninth inning off of the Mustangs’ closer, Mo Wiley. Wiley had given up just one home run all season before that, and would be part of the story before this game was over.

Glenn plated a run in the seventh on a ground ball, and when the Osprey tried to muster some sort of rally in the eighth inning, you couldn’t help but notice that Glenn would have a ninth-inning chance.

Wiley came on with two out in the bottom of the eighth inning, striking out Socrates Brito to end it, then walked Jake Lamb to start the ninth. Following a Michael Perez strikeout and a Breland Almadova groundout that moved Lamb to second, Glenn strolled to the plate with the season on the line.

Glenn then hit a 1-0 pitch over the left-field wall, setting off a celebration that was part-happy, part-relief and part-excitement.

The Osprey, of course, would win the next night, 8-5, and continued their magic carpet ride that became September baseball, taking the road that led to a Pioneer League title.

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