Posted on Tue, Aug. 07, 2007

Power outage delays Monday's NBC feature game

BY JEFFREY PARSON
The Wichita Eagle

Hays Larks left fielder Rich Michalek gripped the bat tightly in his hands with one thought on his mind: He did not come to the NBC World Series to lose.

So Michalek gave the bat a swing and hit the ball, which slowly rolled -- gloriously bending left -- along the artificial turf. The ball hit the upright weight ring with a thud, and Michalek lifted his arms in triumph.

Still, he wished he was playing baseball.

See, like everyone else at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium Monday night, Michalek had to endure a power outage that halted the feature game between Hays and Havasu (Ariz.) for more than an hour. It ended too late to make this edition the Eagle.

The Heat led 3-1 in the bottom of the second inning when the entire stadium lost power at 8:19. Not only did the field's lights go out, everything from the elevator to soda fountains were without power.

Play was immediately halted.

About 25 minutes later, the three banks of lights focused on the infield started turning on. Then one of them went out again, just like the four banks of lights for the outfield.

After about a half-hour, clips from "Saturday Night Live: The Best of Will Ferrell" were shown on the video board. Once those ended, many in the sparse crowd started heading home, disappointed not to see a matchup of undefeated teams that ranked in the top five in batting and top two in pitching in the NBC so far.

The players started finding things to do. Many of the Heat players enjoyed a version of hacky sack using a baseball and their bats.

For Michalek and teammate Tyler Barnett, the choice was obvious: golf. They play the real thing together at least once a week.

So Michalek took a weight ring -- normally placed on the bat to warm up -- and placed it near the outfield. He and Barnett grabbed baseballs and started hitting toward their makeshift hole. They were able to play four holes before the outfield lights began to flicker.

"I won 12 to 13," Michalek said after playing catch to get ready for the game to continue. "I have to tell you, I feel pretty good about it. It was tough, but I edged him by a stroke. And I think that momentum is going to carry over for me the rest of this game tonight."

In all seriousness, NBC tournament director Jerry Taylor was thrilled play could continue, eventually starting at 9:37 p.m. He said City of Wichita workers were not sure, at that point, if the outage was heat-related.

Taylor had already called Wichita State assistant Jim Thomas, who said the NBC could use Eck Stadium on Monday night if needed.

"That was awful nice of them, but it's good to be playing here again," Taylor said. "It's just going to be another late night at the NBC."

Vienna (Va.) Senators 5, San Diego Stars 3 -- The Senators' Nick Wheeler thought he was cursed.

"I was hitting everything to the shortstop," he said. "I needed a break."

He got one in a big way. In the seventh inning, he lifted what the Stars' fans thought was a third-out fly ball. Instead, a stiff wind carried the ball over the left-field fence for a two-run homer that made it 4-2 Vienna.

"I thought maybe I could get past the left fielder to the fence or just maybe the wind would get ahold of it," Wheeler said. "The wind got it all right."

J.D. Alfaro added an insurance home run in the ninth for Vienna, which used five pitchers.

Santa Barbara (Calif.) Foresters 12, Salina Blue Jays 6 -- The Blue Jays led 3-1 before the Foresters started to pile on runs. Seven of them came in the sixth, and six those came after John DeAlba beat out a two-out chopper to the shortstop.

Michael Torres, Devin Shepherd and Erik Castro each homered for Santa Barbara.

Oklahoma A's 6, Rock City (N.C.) Red Sox 1 -- Breck Draper, Clayton Young and Aaron Upshaw each had three hits to back eight solid innings from A's starter Jordan Semore.

Plaza Tire (Mo.) Capahas 10, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rockets 2 -- Eight of Plaza Tire's starters had at least one hit. Capahas starter Anthony Maupin struck out eight in eight innings.

Late Sunday

Junction City Generals 9, Clarinda (Iowa) A's 2 -- Austin Graham went 3 for 4 with three runs and two RBIs for the Generals, who needed only eight hits for their nine runs.

Seattle Studs 6, Santa Maria (Calif.) Indians 2 -- Chad Dias was 2 for 4 with three RBIs for the Studs, who received 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief from Taylor Thompson and Aaron Parente.

© 2007 Wichita Eagle and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.