TinCaps in Kentucky
A very pleasant good afternoon, and greetings from Bowling Green Kentucky, home to Western Kentucky University and the Midwest League’s own Bowling Green Hot Rods. Tonight at 8:05 ET, the TinCaps open a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays’ affiliate, as the two square off for the first time in 2014.
The Hot Rods, who joined the Midwest League in 2010, along with the Lake County Captains, are currently 24-27, which puts them two games ahead of the TinCaps at 22-29. Bowling Green has a new manager this season, Michael Johns, who, like the previous manager, Jared Sandberg, managed at Short-Season Hudson Valley (NY) before coming to South-Central Kentucky.
Meanwhile, the TinCaps have won five of their last six, including a three-game sweep over Dayton in their most recent series, which culminated in a walk-off win yesterday afternoon at Parkview Field:
Here are today’s headlines:
A TinCaps Win Would:Set a new season-long winning streak of four games… Be their sixth in their last seven games… End an eight-game road losing skid.
Last Time They Met: The TinCaps eliminated the Hot Rods from the postseason in 2013. Fort Wayne swept Bowling Green, 2-0, in the East Division’s Semifinals. The result was something of a surprise after the Hot Rods, who won the second half with a 44-26 record, took 10 of 15 regular season meetings against the TinCaps, who sputtered to the tune of a last-place, 29-41 finish. On Fort Wayne’s current roster, only Mallex Smith (4-for-8, 3 R, RBI, BB) and Luis Tejada (1-for-7, 2B, R, 2 RBI) played in the series.
Walk-Off This Way: Thursday’s walk-off win was Fort Wayne’s third of the season. Previously, Dustin Peterson had a walk-off single to beat the Peoria Chiefs in the bottom of the ninth inning, 6-5, on April 19. José Carlos Ureña had a game-winning fielder’s choice groundout on April 29 in a 10-inning, 7-6 win over the Great Lakes Loons.
Eeking It Out: Prior to Thursday, the TinCaps had dropped their previous five games decided by one run, including three walk-off losses. On the season now, Fort Wayne is 5-7 in one-run games. It hadn’t won such a contest since eeking out a 1-0 win at Lansing on May 6.
Makin’ Bucks, Gettin’ Exercise, Workin’ Outside: The TinCaps completed their six-game homestand with a 5-1 record and have won eight of their last nine games at home. Their 16-10 home mark is the second-best in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division, only behind South Bend, which is 17-9 at Four Winds Field. Fort Wayne also drew crowd in excess of 6,000 five of the last six days, for an average attendance of 6,491. Thursday’s crowd of 7,158 was the largest in Class-A and third-largest in all of Minor League Baseball.
One for the Road
While on the bus down to Kentucky today, I enjoyed an article in The New York Times on the Division-III coaching roots of San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, especially this note about the conference in which he once coached, the Sciac:
“Popovich was one of the few coaches to leave the Sciac. The conference’s coaches earn a salary in the range of $80,000 to $120,000, comparable to that of many Division I assistants, and are free of the headaches of recruiting and the grind of travel that are present at other levels. Administrations, concerned more with academic success than winning, rarely push out coaches.
Eslinger, who completed his sixth season at Caltech, is the new kid on the block; six of the nine coaches have been at their posts at least 16 seasons. Mike Bokosky, who has been at Chapman for 22 years, does not have a cellphone. Occidental Coach Brian Newhall has been around for 27 seasons, long enough to have coached against Popovich.
“It’s the no-turnover league,” said Rich Rider, in his 19th season at California Lutheran after working as an assistant at Boise State. He is one of two coaches in the league with a doctoral degree.
Coaches in the Sciac wear many hats. Redlands Coach Jim Ducey also coaches tennis. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Coach Ken Scalmanini teaches two classes and serves on committees for academic standards and work-study programs. And Charlie Katsiaficas, who succeeded Popovich at Pomona-Pitzer, is the chairman of the athletic and physical education departments.”
Sports for fun, it seems. What a concept.
Calvin Harris…take it away!