"It felt like an eternity," Casey Frawley told Kinston.com of Sunday's epic matchup between the high-Class A teams of the Cleveland Indians (Kinston) and Texas Rangers (Myrtle Beach) in which Kinston won 3-2. Kinston and Myrtle Beach combined to play 23 innings, which is the longest game in innings for the Carolina League. Only eight games in the league's history, spanning back to 1945, have gone more than 18 innings. The previous longest game in league history was a 21-inning game between Wimington and Danville back in 1998.
“You felt like the game was never going to end,” Frawley, who delivered the game-winning RBI single with two outs in the 23rd, added. “The baseball gods wanted it to go on forever.”
Frawley finished 2-for-11 with six strikeouts and left the winning run in scoring position with two outs in the ninth, 11th and 16th innings before finally coming through.
“At that point, in the 23rd inning, all that stuff doesn’t matter,” he said. “It’s just that at-bat. I came up with a few opportunities prior to that and I didn’t come through, so I tried to buckle down and get that one.”
Perhaps most impressive about the game was that it featured an eye-popping 48 strikeouts, 32 by Kinston, of which at least half came in extra innings. Clearly, the hitters wanted to go home but the pitchers were too stifling, with Myrtle Beach's starter, Joseph Wieland, striking out nine and Chad Bell whiffing eight in his own five innings starting in the 18th. Kinston struck out 16 players from Myrtle Beach, with Francisco Jimenez punching out eight in five innings starting in the 14th.
No team in the majors has struck out that many, with only two tied for most whiffs with 26. The Brewers won 1-0 back in 2004 in a 17-inning game, while the California Angels needed 20 innings for their 26 punchouts back in 1971.
The contest took six hours and 27 minutes to complete, and somehow no position players were ever needed to pitch. If the game had lasted into the 24th, however, that would have changed as Kinston would have had to turn to position players.
“I look at it as a game of squandered opportunities,” Kinston manager Aaron Holbert said. “I know both teams had them. I think we had more than they did, and we just didn’t get the job done in some good situations to win the ballgame.”
“What a hard-fought battle by both teams,” Myrtle Beach manager Jason Wood added. “It was just a great game. Some great pitching today. We kind of happened to be on this end of it.”
Many players on the Kinston roster have experience with long games and as low-Class A players participated in an 18-inning loss in last season's postseason.
Frawley said he turned to Myrtle Beach center fielder Ryan Strausborger at second base at some point late in the game and told him, “We’ll never play another game like this, most likely, for the rest of our lives.”