Game #39 Jacob Turner starts; Bryce Harper’s HR ball

The scoring last night was complete when Bryce Harper launched a laser-beam 114.1 mph fence buster to right-field at PNC Park in the top of the 9th inning, and the only reason that baseball didn’t get swallowed up by the Allegheny River was that simple chain link fence behind the last row of seats held it back.

Bryce Harper had homered in every Nationals League stadium except for PNC Park in Pittsburgh before last night, and that all changed on Tuesday night when he absolutely obliterated the 1-2 pitch from lefty Wade LeBlanc for the 134th home run of Harper’s career. The fence that protects fans from an accidental fall out of that last row in the stadium is the fence that kept that home run baseball in PNC Park for Devin DeCaro who was at the right place at the right time to snag a piece of history.

“To hit one out of there,” Brian Giles, the former Pirates’ lefty said of reaching the Allegheny River. “You’d have to hit a bomb.”

Devin DeCaro two weeks ago caught his first home run ball ever at a Syracuse Chiefs game which is close to where he lives. The ball he caught that night was hit by a Paw Sox player and DeCaro has no emotional attachment to that baseball. Last night, DeCaro was ready to switch seats as the stadium had mostly cleared out by the 8th inning and better seats were there for the poaching down near the dugouts.

“My twin brother [Alex] and our friend [Ryan Kirkpatrick] encouraged me to stay in our seats until Harper had batted in the 9th inning,” DeCaro said. “I’m glad I listened to them. That ball went over our heads and we searched all over for it. I found it wedged between two seats and the fence.”

The 18-year-old DeCaro was wearing his Bryce Harper jersey and his Syracuse Chiefs cap last night. He has been at the right place at the wrong time before, but this time his luck had changed. He knows this baseball is worth a few thousand dollars, and he is keeping it in a spot where he will enjoy it. Call it fate, call it luck, Bryce Harper is DeCaro’s favorite player along with Hagerstown Suns player Nick Banks who he had met at a short-season Auburn Doubledays game last year. DeCaro has a game used Banks jersey which happens to be jersey #34, and this baseball will sit in a cube next to his prized jersey.

The home run was measured 417 feet from home plate

Kevin Brown, the voice of the Syracuse Chiefs, was filling in at last night’s game for Charlie Slowes on the Nationals radio broadcast, and Brown has already invited DeCaro up to the radio booth for a Chief’s game.

“I live in Auburn [New York],” DeCaro said.  “So I grew up around the Auburn Doubledays, and live 20 minutes away from the Chiefs so I tend to go to a lot of games.”

DeCaro aspires to be a police officer and feels he is respectful of other fans when a home run ball is hit as he wouldn’t jump in front of anyone or push or shove. He’s a fan of ballhawks like Zack Hample while others are not. DeCaro explains he respects Hample because he inspires kids to love baseball and gives away so many balls to youngsters. What’s next for DeCaro? Watching and cheering on the Nationals and their affiliates and hoping the Nats go far in the post-season.

Tonight’s game features Jacob Turner as the Nats 5th starter, and he will square off against the Pirates #1 pitcher Gerrit Cole who has a 3.06 ERA. Bryce Harper is hitting .375 off Cole and the same with Anthony Rendon. The Nats’ 2nd baseman Daniel Murphy has 2 RBIs off of Cole in 9 at-bats. Guess who the only Nats player is with a home run off of Gerrit Cole? Michael Taylor is that player. Brian Goodwin, Trea Turner and Matt Wieters have never faced Cole before.

Matt Grace is back with the Nationals as Joe Blanton was placed on the 10-day DL with shoulder inflammation in his right throwing shoulder.

Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates
Stadium: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1st Pitch:  7:05 pm EDT
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM®  (Internet 869)

Line-ups  (subject to change without notice):

  1. Trea Turner SS
  2. Jayson Werth LF
  3. Bryce Harper RF
  4. Ryan Zimmerman 1B
  5. Daniel Murphy 2B
  6. Anthony Rendon 3B
  7. Brian Goodwin CF
  8. Jose Lobaton C
  9. Jacob Turner RHP


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