The ball ended up in the center fielder’s glove. It was ruled a home run.
Tampa Bay prospect Diego Infante notched one of the strangest home runs of the Minor League season when he belted his fourth of the year off a camera stand in center field and back onto the playing field as High-A Bowling Green split a Wednesday doubleheader with Brooklyn with an 8-0 win in the finale.
Infante strode to the plate in the bottom of the fourth inning of Wednesday’s second game with a man on and his team already in front 6-0. On the first pitch he saw from Cyclones reliever Garrison Bryant, the outfielder crushed a drive to center. Brooklyn outfielder and No. 14 Mets prospect Jaylen Palmer pursued it from his spot in center and appeared, briefly, to have snagged the fly at the wall. Palmer held the ball aloft in triumph before putting his hands on his head in disbelief. Cyclones left fielder Tanner Murphy pointed to his teammate and appeared to yell, “He caught the ball!”
Upon further review, it wasn’t so. At the last second before the ball settled in Palmer’s mitt, its path changed direction, ricocheting off something beyond the fence.
“Further review” was something field umpire Jay Belangia didn’t even need. On video, the ball clearly hit the stand supporting the center-field camera at Bowling Green Ballpark, redirecting it into Palmer’s glove but only after it had already cleared the field of play for a home run. Belangia immediately and correctly ruled the hit a homer, explaining his call to Cyclones manager Luis Rivera, who came out of the dugout for an explanation.
After a brief conversation with Rivera, Belangia conferred with home-plate umpire Clay Williams to confirm the call. The two-run dinger gave Bowling Green an 8-0 lead in one of the most unorthodox ways possible.