Uegawachi has memorable game
The shortstop from Honolulu was involved in three double plays.
By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- The smallest of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, who is the furthest from his home, has a smile as warm as the sunshine in his home state.
Shortstop Bryce Uegawachi, whose 5-foot-6-inch frame weighs in at 150 pounds, had a memorable game in Sunday's loss to the Jamestown Jammers.
The Honolulu resident who played at Hawaii Pacific University last year participated in three of the Scrappers double plays. He also had trouble tagging out a stealing base-runner when his glove became wedged under second base.
Hit in chin: Later, he was struck in the chin by a pitch, but he's not sure what the ball hit first -- his bat or his chest.
And he triggered a ninth-inning ending, bases-loaded double play that preserved a 3-3 tie.
Not bad for an Hawaiian playing in chilly 65-degree temperatures.
Uegawachi also was part of double plays in the first, second and fifth innings.
Scrappers third baseman Francis Finnerty said Uegawachi "is a very good athlete. He's kind of surprising because of his size and everything, but he's a real good athlete."
Strong throw: In the fourth inning, Mahoning Valley catcher Buster Small made a strong throw to second, and appeared to have Jamestown base-runner Billy McCarthy, who was attempting a steal, nailed.
But the force of the throw knocked Uegawachi's glove against the base.
"He threw it to me kind of hard, so when I caught it, my glove went back and got wedged in the bag," said the 22-year-old shortstop. "I was supposed to come up, but it was wedged. It was the longest second of my life."
Stranded: McCarthy slid past the stuck glove to the back of the bag, but was stranded when Scrappers starter Victor Kleine struck out Tommy Parrot and Hector Pimentel.
Uegawachi's adventures continued in the seventh inning when a pitch from Jammers reliever Josh Tiller eventually grazed his chin.
Home plate umpire Steve McMullen ruled the pitch hit Uegawachi's bat first and kept him in the batter's box.
"I don't know whether if it hit the bat, then me, then my chin or if it hit me, hit the bat then hit my chin. I guess the umpire heard it hit my bat ... or my chin," Uegawachi said.
On the next pitch, Uegawachi sacrificed Small to second.
With the score tied 3-3 with one out in the ninth inning and the bases loaded, Uegawachi was at his most graceful fielding a sharply hit ball by Jamestown's Greg Miller.
Double play: Uegawachi caught the ball just before he reached second base, touched the bag as he set himself for a throw then fired a strike to Rickie Morton at first for the inning-ending double play.
"The ball was hit perfectly to me because I was covering the bag, and it arrived at me chest high so it wasn't as if I had to bend down," Uegawachi said. "I just came across the bag and threw it to first -- it was almost as if someone had thrown it to me."
Scrappers manager Dave Turgeon called it a key play, but wasn't surprised.
"He's fun to watch," Turgeon said. "He catches everything hit to him."