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Garcia’s bat flies into stands Saturday night, striking White Sox fan

Outfielder Avisail Garcia lost his bat in a second inning at-bat on Saturday, sending it sailing over protective netting and into the stands.
ALLIE GOULDING   |   Times
Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Avisail Garcia (24) lines out at the bottom of the sixth inning against New York Yankees on Saturday, July 06, 2019 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
ALLIE GOULDING | Times Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Avisail Garcia (24) lines out at the bottom of the sixth inning against New York Yankees on Saturday, July 06, 2019 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
Published Jul. 21, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG - Avisail Garcia swung and missed at a Lucas Giolito changeup in the bottom of the second inning on Saturday night. The outfielder lost grip of his bat, sending it high above the protective netting at Tropicana Field.

The bat soared over foul ground, clearing the netting and helicoptering into section 119 on the left side of the infield. Robert Lyons, of Chicago, spotted the bat flying toward his seat and knew immediately that he wouldn’t be able to make the catch.

Robert Lyons, left, and Maria Kokkinias, right, of Chicago, watch the Rays game against the White Sox at Tropicana Field on Saturday, July 20. Lyons was struck by Avisail Garcia's bat as it flew into the stands in the second inning.

“It flew over the net and was moving so fast,” Lyons said. “There was no way I was going to stand up and grab it.”

Lyons sid that his first instinct was to turn his back to the bat and protect his girlfriend, Maria Kokkinias.

“I moved over, blocked her, and then it hit me on my back,” he said.

The bat left a brown stain of pine tar on Lyons’ blue and white collared shirt before it fell to the aisle.

Avisail Garcia's bat flew into the stands and struck Robert Lyons in the second inning on Saturday, July 20. The bat left a brown stain of pine tar on Lyons' shirt.

Lyons was unhurt and remained at the game with his family and friends. The Chicago native came to St. Petersburg for the three-game set between the White Sox and the Rays. He will fly home to Chicago on Sunday night.

Alex Rowe attended Saturday’s game after playing a baseball tournament in Sanford. The 14-year-old followed the bat from his own seats in section 119. He immediately stood up as the bat flew through the air, planning to track it down.

“If I made the wrong move the bat would have come up and hit me in my nose,” Rowe said. “If I made the right move, I get the bat, and I ended up doing that.”

After the bat settled on the stairway, Rowe ran up from his seat to grab it. Although Lyons was the victim of the airborne bat, he offered it to the young fan.

Alex Rowe, 14, holds Avisail Garcia's bat that sailed into the stands during the Rays game against the White Sox on Saturday, July 20 at Tropicana field.

Rowe, a diehard baseball fan from Coral Springs, said that he goes to dozens of major league games every year and collects sports memorabilia. He has a tennis racket from Serena Williams, a hockey stick from Sydney Crosby and a signed baseball from Adrian Beltre.

“I collect a lot, so getting the bat was kind of a big thing for me," Rowe said.

The incident comes just one day after a fan in section 129, also on the left side of the field, was struck by a foul ball and required medical attention.

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