Benches clear after bunt ends Minors no-no in 9th

June 5th, 2019

Behind the pitching of Rockies No. 21 prospect Rico Garcia and a pair of relievers, Double-A Hartford carried a combined no-hitter into the ninth inning of its home game against Trenton on Tuesday night.

Ultimately, Trenton broke up the no-no -- but not without some controversy and flaring tempers.

With the Yard Goats ahead by three runs, closer Ben Bowden began the top of the ninth inning by striking out the Thunder’s Jorge Saez. The next batter, Matt Lipka, decided to take an unconventional approach. On the first pitch, he dropped down a bunt toward first base and beat it out for a single, breaking up the no-hit bid.

Bowden, Colorado’s No. 16 prospect, recovered to get the next two hitters, ending the game and giving Hartford a 3-0 victory. But that didn’t quite close the book on the night, as the Yard Goats took exception to the perceived violation of one of baseball’s unwritten rules. The two sides exchanged words after the final out was recorded, with the benches clearing and the teams needing to be separated.

It’s not the first time that a player bunting in such a situation has caused controversy. One infamous incident along these lines occurred on May 26, 2001, when Ben Davis of the Padres bunted for a hit that broke up a perfect-game bid by D-backs pitcher Curt Schilling in the eighth inning.

In this case, the bunt single turned out to be one of only three times in the game that Trenton got a runner on base. The other two came on Hartford errors, one of which was erased on a double play.

Garcia, a 30th-round pick by the Rockies in the 2016 MLB Draft, is now 7-1 with a 1.92 in 11 starts for the Yard Goats this season. He logged six innings Tuesday, striking out 11.

Jordan Foley, Logan Cozart and Bowden followed with an inning apiece, as Hartford’s staff finished the game with 16 strikeouts and no walks. Rockies No. 2 prospect Colton Welker and No. 25 prospect Bret Boswell provided two of the team’s three solo home runs.