Matt Lollis thought it was a joke.
And then the TinCaps pitcher turned around and saw his name written on the team’s lineup card in the dugout.
Because of a mistake in Fort Wayne’s lineup card handed to the umpires before the game, the pitcher was forced to hit. Lollis went 1 for 3 with a double in a 4-1 loss to Lake County in front of a sellout crowd of 7,306 fans at Parkview Field.
Lollis gave up two runs on seven hits in six innings. But this game will be remembered for his hitting. The 6-foot-7, 230-pound right hander didn’t look all that uncomfortable in the batter’s box.
I was in the dugout with the guys. They just said load up quick and swing and hopefully I meet with it. I swung as hard as I could and luckily I hit the ball, Lollis said of his hit.
The TinCaps (28-18, 64-52 overall) lineup handed to the umpires had Jedd Gyorko as the designated hitter and Edinson Rincon slated to play third. But when the game began, Gyorko stood at third.
Lake County (22-24, 66-49) manager Ted Kubiak alerted home plate umpire Chris Nguyen of situation after Delvi Cid flew out to center field to begin the game. Because the designated hitter, Gyorko, had taken the field, the TinCaps were forced to surrender the role. That meant the pitcher, in this case Lollis, had to bat in Rincon’s slot, which was sixth in the lineup.
Citing a computer error, manager Jose Flores took full responsibility for the mistake.
I had Rincon originally DH, when I made the switch, it didn’t print out that way, he said. We have a platoon with these two guys, every two days, and the way it was written was Gyorko at third, but the lineup card didn’t come out that way.
Lollis said the last time he hit was during a summer league before signing with San Diego in 2009. He was the second batter in the second inning.
Teammates laughed and smiled from the dugout as Lollis strolled to the plate. On the third pitch, Lollis hit a ground ball back to pitcher Clayton Cook.
Don’t strike out and don’t break the bat, Lollis said was his goal the first time up. Don’t make a fool of yourself.
Lollis got back to his day job, giving up one run each in the third and fourth.
Lollis sliced a double down the right-field line with one out in the fourth. Trailing 2-1 in the sixth, Gyorko led off with a double. Flores elected to let Lollis bunt instead of lifting him for a pinch hitter. Reliever Nick Sarianides fielded the ball and threw to third to cut down Gyorko.
We wanted to have Lollis get down the bunt so we can save (Wande Olabisi) because he was our only true outfielder we had left, Flores said.