Friday, July 20—For the second time in as many nights the Renegades survived a ninth-inning scare and held on to edge the Aberdeen IronBirds by a single run, this time 3-2. The Gades took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, were up 2-1 after three and tacked on an important insurance run—ultimately the margin of victory—in the eighth.
Aberdeen first baseman Cameron Edman, who comes from Montana, cranked a solo home run over the left-field fence in the ninth. Normally I would just politely applaud such an accomplishment but in this case I was on my feet, cheering his “nice rip,” ringing my cowbell and thanking him for miniature golf. Cameron, tonight’s K-man, struck out twice earlier, meaning everybody in the Dutch won a free round of miniature golf at Fun Central in Wappingers Falls. I was pleased to see him do something positive (especially when it did not alter the outcome of the game) and it seemed a decent thing to applaud his homer as a way of showing appreciation for the golf. Please click here to read the game story on the Gades’ Web site.
Once again the grounds crew made a yeoman effort to get the field playable after a long, steady rain that did not end until early afternoon but at least brought relief from the recent oppressive heat and humidity. It rained even later at my home, not stopping until shortly before I left for the stadium. Coffee from Gulf Express, supplemented by some chips left over from last night, significantly boosted my spirits by the time I entered the stadium. I soon met up with Fred and June, who had missed several recent games because of aversion to extreme heat and humidity. It was good to see them again. I eventually caught up with Bob Hand, who was selling tennis balls on the third-base concourse, and we had a nice chat before the game started.
I had the pleasure of sharing the game with a real nice family in the Fleischman seats, including Monty, Charlene and their very polite 3-year-old daughter Carley, who was attending her first baseball game.
There were a few lingering muddy spots on the warning track but otherwise the field appeared to be in great shape. Home plate umpire James Pattison thought otherwise about a spot in front of the dish, so play was delayed for a few minutes at the start of the second inning while a crew headed by Tim Merante, head groundskeeper, remedied the situation to a round of applause.
“Vamonos, Joel! Se puede!” (Let’s go, Joel! You can do it!” I shouted at Joel Caminero, who hails from the Dominican Republic, as he came to bat with bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth. He smiled at me and nodded. Unfortunately, he struck out after running the count full, but Leonardo Reginatto stroked a single to score Marty Gantt with what proved to be the winning run.
I noticed from the roster sheet that the IronBirds had several connections of particular interest to me in addition to their place in the Baltimore Orioles organization, whose parent team is based in the city where my mother was born. Ken Wise, who pitched the final two innings, shares an April 7 birthday with my younger daughter, Kathleen. Left fielder Anthony Vega, who led off the first with a triple, was a 30th-round draft choice this year out of Manhattan College, my alma mater. Chase Weems, a catcher who did not play tonight, played in 2011 for the Rockland Boulders of the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball (CanAm League) before joining the IronBirds as a free agent this year.
The game was followed by a shorter than usual (five minutes instead of seven or eight) but impressive display of fireworks, including numerous colorful sprays and loud boomers.
Afterward, I helped Katie, a Fun Team member, offer leftover hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken to members of both teams as they emerged from the clubhouse, helping myself in the process after I noticed there were not many takers. The remains made their way back to the usual early gathering spot by the low fence that separates the driveway from the corral (also known as a parking area for the grounds crew and other staffers), where they were eventually joined by leftover chicken parmesan, pulled pork and brisket. Chips and pretzels from last night rounded out the menu. In short, a fine feast was enjoyed by those of us who stuck around well after the game.
Kristen Huss, director of ticket sales, joined us for a time and told us details about the July 28 benefit for her late brother. In the midst of that conversation we saw not one but two foxes scampering about the main parking lot, to the delight of all of us.
The gathering had dwindled to Bob and me by the time Matt Quatraro, former manager of the Renegades and now a hitting director for the entire Tampa Bay Rays organization, left the clubhouse. He stopped his car near us to say hello and inquired how Dave was doing: “Prospector, how’s your son?” I gave him a quick update and he asked me to please tell Dave he said hello. I was delighted that he remembered Dave.
Bob and I left the remains of the feast in a discreet location for “the critters” before heading home after midnight.
Next home game: Monday, July 23 vs. Staten Island Yankees, first pitch 7:05 p.m.