Tuesday, Aug. 7—The Renegades continued their come-from-behind winning ways tonight, upending the Vermont Lake Monsters 7-5 at Dutchess Stadium after a road trip that saw them take two of three games from the State College Spikes and sweep a three-game series with the Jamestown Jammers. The Renegades, now 33-16, remain atop the McNamara Division, two games ahead of the Brooklyn Cyclones.
The visitors, in a familiar pattern, took an early lead and were up 5-0 after four innings. The Renegades then took over, scoring four runs as 10 men batted in the fifth, and went ahead to stay with three runs in the eighth. Mike Williams singled home the tying run and Luke Maile tripled home the winning run along with an insurance tally. Please click here to read the game story on the Gades’ Web site.
As I settled into my seat I noticed that I had company—a large praying mantis (an insect known for consuming large quantities of offensive insects) was clinging, motionless, to the field side of the net right in front of me. I did not want to see it risk getting hit by a foul ball but I did not want to disturb it, either, since it might have relocated to a more hazardous spot; so I let it be, took a picture, said a prayer for it and hoped it enjoyed the game without mishap. Apparently it did; it offered no response to a foul ball that struck another section of the net, and at one point I thought I saw its antennae moving slightly as the fans chanted “Hey! Ho!” after the Renegades scored. By the end of the game the mantis had shifted slightly but was unfazed as several folks came over and took its picture.
Alex and Susanne were back at The Dutch after a swing through the Midwest to visit family. For a change the Interstate Battery seats were filled tonight, with a nice family of four. All of us in the immediate area were fascinated by the praying mantis. Throughout the game I heard such comments as “It’s right in front of Prospector.” Tom Fleischman, always good for a reality check, assured me that the attraction for commentators and photographers was the mantis, not the Prospector, and I readily agreed with him.
John and his son Conner joined the Fleischmans to my left tonight and Conner, an infielder who has played college ball at The Dutch, shared some details about the field, statistics and the signals teams use. The dirt around home plate and in parts of the infield is “hard as a rock,” he said, and he has collected his share of scrapes. Watering the dirt before a game helps, but not always as much as one would like. By contrast, the area around second base is spongy. As an infielder his responsibilities involve discreetly transmitting the signals for upcoming pitches to the outfielders so they can adjust accordingly—left or right depending on whether a pitch was likely to be hit sooner or later, in or out depending on whether a pitch was likely to be hit harder and farther (a fastball) or shorter (a changeup, for example). Furthermore, the pads of paper that Jared Sandberg and other managers carry with them contain all sorts of data about players on both teams as well as such basic information as lineups—data that help the skipper determine whether a particular runner is likely to take an additional base before the arrival of a throw from a particular fielder, based on the runner’s speed and the fielder’s reaction time and throwing speed. I knew that baseball was statistical heaven but I was not aware that the numbers were crunched that much. Fascinating stuff; as Conner said, there is a lot more to a baseball game than the obvious activity on the field.
The celebration was in full swing in the parking lot by the time I arrived. I congratulated first baseman Mike Williams on his 3-for-4 night that included two doubles and singling home the tying run. I also met Charles Epperson, an outfielder who graduated magna cum laude from Jackson State University with a degree in chemistry. We collectively hailed several other Renegades on another inspiring victory.
A pan of bunless hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken had arrived before I did, to which I added the container of party mix. The gathering initially included Bob Hand, Paul, Hal, Grant, Patty, Bev, Bob, Marty and me, then gradually dwindled, as usual, to Bob and me.
One of the foxes was scampering about the parking lot and I hurled a hamburger in its general direction before we set the pan of leftovers by the garbage bin for the critters. I wasn’t sure if the fox got to the burger but if it did not, I’m sure something else will.
Bob and I finally left around 1 a.m. on a sad note; we found that one of the foxes had been struck and killed on the driveway into the season-ticket-holder/special parking lot. Poor thing; hope it did not suffer.
Next home game: Wednesday, Aug. 8 vs. Vermont Lake Monsters, first pitch 7:05 p.m.