Kris Anglin’s first pitch on Wednesday will actually be his 71st of the Central Section Division I Baseball Championship game.
Anglin and the rest of the Frontier baseball team will take the field down 4-2 and worried about Clovis’ runner at third base with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning. They'll also pick things back up on a different field from where the game began four days prior.
It’s an unconventional way to finish out the D-I championship, but for all parties involved, it’s the unsettling reality set in place.
And, while no one involved is pleased with the outcome, sometimes that’s what Mother Nature can do.
The D-I title game was originally supposed to be played at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Beiden Field at Fresno State.
Then the forecast of a strong storm coming in late Saturday afternoon in Fresno forced the Central Section to scramble and try and make the appropriate changes to ensure all four baseball games played Saturday would get in.
The D-VI finals were moved to top-seeded Bishop against Foothill on Tuesday in Bishop.
That left the 4:30 p.m. start time slot open for the D-I game.
But with a 100 percent chance of rain beginning at 4 p.m. in Fresno forecasted, that situation gave both coaching staffs and school administrations reason to pause.
The schools agreed to play off-site at a Clovis Unified campus at noon Saturday, but the section office didn’t approve the move.
There was a contract in place with nfhsnetwork.com to webcast the game. Umpires were in place for one game every three hours. Vendors were promised a certain number of spectators at Fresno State.
Logistically and financially, there was no wiggle room for section commissioner Jim Crichlow and his staff to have two championship games going at the same time at two separate venues on such short notice.
“We wanted to stay on schedule. People had set schedules,” Crichlow said. “We had umpires that have other jobs that needed to get time off. We tried to move the games up as quickly as we could to try and beat the rain. We wanted to use Fresno State as much as we could.”
But with rain on its way, Frontier coach Garrett White knew there was not going to be a full game played at the scheduled time.
“There was no way we were going to play seven innings. None. Not with that rain,” White said. “We should have never started. It was a sloppy mess and not a proper representation of baseball, especially a championship game.”
That’s also where more of the frustration came into play. The section officials were willing to move the start up 30 minutes after Highland beat Atascadero in the D-III finals. That would have meant a 3:41 p.m. start time.
But White and Clovis coach James Patrick are creatures of habit and did not want to rush their players on the field.
So, the game started at 4:15 and halted at 5:43 when the bat flew out of the hands of Clovis’ Matt Sanchez. Then 15 minutes later, it was postponed.
“It’s one of those things, because who expects this to happen in May?” Crichlow asked rhetorically. “I feel for the kids.”
And the NFHS bylaws, which the CIF adheres to, states that when the game is resumed, pitch counts resume from where they were.
So both pitchers for Clovis and Frontier will take the mound with the same amount of pitches as they ended with on Saturday despite having four days rest. Even Frontier senior Austin Puskaric, who has not pitched since going eight innings in the semifinals last Wednesday, is not available because the rule states that the game must be resumed with same pitch-count guidelines set in place on the original day of play.
“When the game was moved from Saturday, we anticipated that Puskaric would be ready to go,” White said.
So, here it is: Bottom of the fourth with a 1-1 count and Sanchez back at the plate with one out and a runner at third for Clovis. The Cougars lead Frontier 4-2 with the location now shifting to Clovis High four days after the game began.
Things will pick back up at 4:30 p.m.
“You just have to prepare for a three inning battle,” White said. “You have to, no matter how you feel about the situation. You have to move past that and rally the troops. As the coach, you have to create the atmosphere that despite the deck being stacked against you, you have to get it done.”