A delayed flight and an absent academy award winner did Znot prevent the visiting Los Angeles Love baseball team from torching the San Quentin Giants 15-6.
“Manchester By the Sea” Oscar winner, actor and producer Casey Affleck had a prior engagement and couldn’t make the trip. But the rest of the team set out on the journey, only to be stuck on the airport runway for three hours.
“We were going to play this game no matter what,” said Love’s Ben Gavin.
And play is what they did from first to last. The Love’s Brian Nichols smacked a grand slam homerun over the left-field fence to put the icing on the game in the ninth inning.
This was payback for a walk-off grand slam homerun last year by the then San Quentin All-Stars that gave the Love a 7-6 defeat.
“We were very impacted by this experience. You can see the power of this sport and the way it brings a quality of redemption,” said David Gould, the Love’s coach. “When you are on that field you don’t feel like you are in a prison. This is a restorative program and the prisons need restorative programs to bring people back to who they really are.”
The Giants defense opened the game sluggishly.
Pitcher Gary “Cool Aid” Towne, who’s normally stellar at the mound, hit two batters and gave up three quick runs in the first inning.
The rest of the Giants missed throws and fly-balls that extended innings.
“We came out flat. We didn’t play Giants baseball,” Anthony Redwood said. “Today they were the better team. We just thank them for coming all this way and giving us a chance to play.”
L.A. Love blew the game open in the third, scoring a whopping six runs. Justin Halpern and Alex Ansolenga led off with singles, and then Gavin came up big with a homerun over the center-field fence.
The Love’s Jeff Pruitt smashed a double to score Matt Zajack, who was hit by a pitch, and Kody McCarty. Pruitt was singled in by Gould.
The Giants big hitters who helped score runs were Redwood, Ruben Harper, and Angelo Mecchi. Pitcher Mark Barger relieved Townes, but he also hit a player and gave up the grand slam.
“This program helps us relieve stress and come together as a community,” Barger said. “It teaches us to communicate and not to use violence as the answer.”
Pruitt added, “These guys grew up like me, but they had different situations. Most of these guys came in at a young age. I think they deserve a second chance. They have taken responsibility for the things they done.”
The L.A. Love is from the Beverly Hills Wood Bat League. The club was started eight years ago by Affleck and Gould.