Minor League Odyssey - Day Two - Beloit
by, 08-03-2012 at 05:09 PM (814 Views)
After spending a relaxing day in the Janesville/Beloit area (went to see Cave of the Mounds and did some hiking at some local parks), I headed out to the ballpark again a touch earlier this evening. Had to stop at the Culverís in Beloit to get my free dish of custard for last nightís win. Getting to the ballpark I have time today to walk around a little bit and see whatís there. One main concession stand right near the main entrance (operating at half capacity, and which I did utilize late in the game, during the eighth inning when they announced $1 hot dogs while supplies lasted) and two other stands near the ends of either bleacher (one is actually a small bbq place which I would have tried if I hadnít eaten at Culverís earlier). There are a few games for the kids, including the ubiquitous trampoline tent, but not a whole lot. I walk past the poster advertising the Prince Fielder Bobble-arm night coming up in about a week (he is decked out in a Snapper uniform, of course), and stop to see how fast I could throw a baseball at a stand near the main entrance. My (long dormant) dreams of a miracle mid-age career (ala The Rookie) finally gasp their last breath and die as I realize that my 60mph fastball probably wonít be good enough to make it, even if I do have lousy location.
There arenít quite as many fans in the stands this night (500-something compared to 800+ the night before), and it is a good mix of families with small kids, a few average folk like me, a good share of senior citizens (including one woman who looks to be in her late eighties but who can still get around good and is ringing a teacherís school bell she has brought whenever the Snappers do something right). Unlike Target Field, only a handful are wearing apparel that sport team colors or insignia. Those that do are about evenly divided between the Twins and the Snappers (with the Green Bay Packers easily taking third place!) No live singer tonight; the anthem is organ music (live or canned I couldnít tell).
Iíve sometimes had people tell me you can tell a lot about how the game is going to go by the first pitch. For the first few innings that would-be aphorism seems to hold. Taylor Rogers gets the game off with a strike (the first of many he threw as he struck out five in his five innings of work and not often falling behind in the count) and basically shuts down Kane County for the first four innings. Meanwhile, for the Cougars, the first pitch hit the lead-off batter (Nate Roberts) and starts a three-run first inning, the highlight of which was a long shot from Miguel Sano over the left-center fence. The fielder never even moved. It is the first of two key hits Sano would have, driving in the first five Snapper runs. The Snappers added three more the next few innings and by the end of the fourth this is starting to feel like a rout.
As so often happens in baseball, however, the momentum shifts. Rogers begins to struggle in the fifth giving up three hits which, combined with two infield errors (Sano & Rosario) allow the Cougars to climb back to within one (6-5). Atherton comes in to pitch 1+ innings but is pulled in the seventh for Melotakis after a base hit and error on a pick-off attempt leaves a runner on third with two out. Melotakis gives up two consecutive singles and the game is tied. Fortunately, he does no futher real damage and Zach Jones enters in the eighth and gets the last five outs (including 3 K). The Snappers had managed to scrape up solo runs in the seventh and eighth (on a sacrifice by Williams and a nice triple by Grimes, who was brought in by Roberts). Final result Ė another Snapper win which, if it was not nearly as pretty as last nightís game (four errors on Beloit), still resulted in another coupon for free custard at Culverís.
You do have to credit the Snappers organization for trying to make the experience as fan-friendly as possible. A couple of new promotions during the game, of which the highlight was watching a young girl standing on the field holding a french fry basket trying to catch rubber chickens tossed by a Beloit staffer in order to win a gift certificate. After all three chickens are tossed (and missed), they give her one more chance and this time, although it also goes awry, it mysteriously ends up in the basket anyway (perhaps the presence of another staffer standing next to the girl explains it) and the young child goes home happy.
I was glad to see the manager mix up the lineup tonight. It allowed me to see all the Snappers position players during this two-game stretch, and thatís a part of why I am doing this trip Ė to see as many of the up-and-coming potential Twins as I can.
Next stop: Elizabethton, Sat. & Sun.
*Note: I will not be blogging my travel days