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Newark Bears Slugger One Step Closer to a Major League Return

Daryle Ward, who left Sunday's game, is headed to the Arizona Diamondbacks organization

Newark Bears contest against the Brockton Rox at Riverfront Stadium Sunday began like many others this season.

The Bears got on the scoreboard early thanks to a base hit from catcher Eric McGee, which drove in second baseman Ryan Walsh to give Newark a 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, however something special happened. Following a single from Bears center fielder Tim Raines Jr., Daryle Ward, who was scheduled to bat, left midway through the inning.

Players and coaches from both teams stood on the field and appeared bewildered as to what was transpiring.

Ward had warmed up in the on-deck circle and appeared ready for action before being summoned back into the dugout by manager Tim Raines. Soon after, the stocky 36-year-old veteran began gathering his belongings and received hugs and high-fives from his teammates before leaving the field.

It was clear that something out of the ordinary was taking place.

Speculation quickly began among coaches on the field that the former big leaguer had been signed by a Major League team, as a scout had been in attendance at the stadium this past week.

Those rumors became a reality shortly after an announcement over the stadium's PA system confirmed that Ward had been signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks organization and would be reporting to their Double-A minor league affiliate, the Mobile BayBears, in Alabama.

The first baseman, who is the team leader in many offensive categories, left the field to a chorus of cheers from the Bears faithful.

The experience may have been surreal for Ward, but it was special for his teammates as well, many of whom are fighting to break into the big leagues themselves.

"It's a great experience to watch a teammate especially a vet get signed," said Bears reliever Victor Gonzalez. "The experience watching him get taken out from the game right before his at-bat to go sign just gives you the extra motivation to try and get it done for yourself."

"It's special for us teammates, our organization, and for Ward himself. No one deserves it more than him. We wish him the best and hope he makes it back and puts up big numbers," said Gonzalez.

Ward, who has spent parts of the past three seasons in Newark, was an offensive catalyst this year. In 57 games, the veteran clubbed 12 home runs and drove in 51 runs. 

Surprisingly, Ward's signing wasn't the only newsworthy item out of Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium on Sunday, as there was still a game to be played.

After dropping the first two games of the series to the Rox, who are managed by former Major Leaguer player Bill Buckner, the Bears looked to take the final game of the series and end the weekend on a winning note.

Starting pitcher Alex Smith took the mound and pitched masterfully through six shut-out innings. The 26-year-old southpaw now has a 2.93 ERA and holds a team-best seven wins. The Bears also received scoreless innings of relief from T.J. Hose, Matt Fitton and Mikey Mehlich en route to a 5-0 victory.

The Bears remain home Monday night to begin a three-game set against the Pittsfield Colonials. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m.

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