Written and Photo By: Sean McChesney
In game 2 of the historic series between the New Jersey Jackals and Cuban National baseball team on June 29, everything from drama, controversy, heartbreak, and triumph were featured in the 9 innings of play. Following the 9-4 loss to Cuba the night before which included an 18 hit performance from Cuba, the Jackals bounced back to knock off the Cuban national team 3-1. The exciting and thrilling game featured close calls, a third inning protest, a no hit bid broken up in the 9th inning, and even the 700th career Jackals win for Manager Joe Calfapietra.
The Jackals got the offense started in the bottom of the second inning when left fielder Johnny Bladel hit an opposite field home run over the right field fence to give the Jackals a 1-0 lead over Cuba. This was the Jackals first lead over Cuba in the series. The Jackals would also add another run in the bottom of the third on a bases loaded walk to right fielder Cory Vaughn, but that was only the beginning of the controversy.
With 2 outs in the bottom of the third, Jackals catcher Adam Martin would step up to the plate with bases loaded and crush a ball over the left field fence which appeared by many to go foul around the left side of the foul pole, but the umpires called it fair and a grand slam for Martin. The Jackals went up 6-0 lead and the Cuban team was irate. Cuba manager Roger Machado and his team were so upset, Machado actually pulled his team off the field and threatened to leave the stadium in protest. Before that could happen, the umpires got together and reversed the call to a foul ball which put all 3 runners back on base and the inning ended on the next pitch with Martin striking out swinging and the game would stay at 2-0.
New Jersey would add one more run in the bottom of the 4th inning when third baseman Taylor Brennan drilled an RBI single to right field bringing in Jackals designated hitter Michael O’Neil to put the Jackals up 3-0.
The story after the 4th inning was Jackals starting pitcher Lee Sosa. The longer he continued to pitch, the more many fans started to realize that something special was on the verge of happening.
Sosa dominated his way through the Cuban lineup and in the 7th and 8th innings, he was able to find his way out of trouble without surrendering a hit. Finally going to the top of the 9th inning, Sosa had struck out 6 and walked 4 batters, but he had not allowed a hit. Sosa came to the mound 3 outs away from throwing a no hitter in front of a Yogi Berra Stadium crowd of 1,914 people.
The no hitter would be broken up in the 9th, following a leadoff walk, Cuban catcher Yosvani Alarcon drilled a single over the head of Jackals shortstop Eddie Newton into left center field for Cuba’s first hit of the game. Calfapietra had seen enough of Sosa after that and he left the game to a standing ovation from both the Jackals and Cuban fans in attendance.
Jackals pitcher Jose Jose entered the game to grab the save and the win for the Jackals, and he got himself out of trouble to get pinch hitter Juan Torriente to ground out to second to end the ballgame.
In a game that featured drama, heartbreak, and anger, the Jackals picked up the win 3-1 giving Calfapietra his 700th career win as Jackals manager and the win also ended Cuba’s 7 game winning streak in the United States.