Due to our impending move to Kansas, catching Snappers games is about to become a lot more difficult just due to sheer distance. Thus, we took advantage last weekend and took in the last game of the first half of the season for Beloit against the Quad Cities River Bandits (Cardinals A affiliate).
This was doubly exciting because earlier in the week Aaron Hicks had been called up to take a spot on the roster. I was hoping to get a chance to see him play this year before I left, and he made it just in time.
We got to see a little bit of everything from Hicks. In his second at-bat he laced a solid line-drive single and came around to score on an Ozzie Lewis sacrifice fly. From there on out he demonstrated his patience at the plate, drawing two walks in his next two times up.
Then in the seventh, Quad Cities opted to intentionally walk Hicks to load the bases (and set up a force). But Hicks was batting second, so that meant they would rather pitch to the heart of the Beloit order than Hicks. That’s a lot of respect for a 19-year old with 10 at-bats in the league so far. Anyway. their strategy worked as Ramon Santana blistered a liner back up the middle that somehow found the pitcher’s glove for an easy double play.
We also got to see some spectacular defense from Hicks. In the fifth inning with Beloit up 1-0, there were men on 2nd and 3rd with one out. A deep fly ball to center sent Hicks ranging back and a little toward right field. The fly was plenty deep enough to score the runner without a throw, but Hicks put a bullet right on the third base bag to nail the runner trying to advance from second. The tag was applied before the runner from third scored, so our scoreless innings streak remained intact (17 and counting at that point). It was a truly amazing throw. The crowd was pretty subdued all afternoon (it was hot, and nobody was hitting) but that got people pretty fired up.
As the eighth inning drew to a close, the Snappers had just added on two more runs on Jeff Lannigan’s triple to extend their lead to 4-0. Michael Tarsi, the starter, had left the game to a standing ovation having gone six and two-thirds innings without allowing a run.
Relieving him was Joe Testa, the Snappers All-Star representative, who came in and struck out the first man he faced to end the seventh and then struck out the side in the eighth inning. I had a hockey game to get to (it was the championship so it got moved up to primetime, normally we play at 10:30 at night, Sunday it was 7:00), so we decided to leave before the final out.
I know that’s a cardinal sin, but whatever, the Snappers hadn’t given up a run in the last 20 innings we had seen them. Testa looked fantastic, what could possibly go wrong?
Things that I will miss from the minor league experience:
The entertaining contests betwixt innings – but don’t take my word for it, even the players find this stuff fascinating.
Snappy D. Turtle – He’s a dancing fiend, but the topper was late in this game when he came through our section and silently shook every single person’s hand. Now Beloit crowds aren’t really raucous by any stretch of the imagination, and it was during a particularly slow part of the game, but it was downright surreal watching this turtle methodically work his way around the section, not speaking, not interacting with anyone, just silently shaking everyone’s hand. Bizzare