Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Random Thoughts on My Lancaster Trip

I conducted several interviews and took a ton of pictures and video during my trip to Lancaster. While I sort through it all, let me leave you with some random thoughts for now.

My first game on Friday was a slugfest, a total of 32 runs scored by the two teams and a 7-RBI night from Telvin Nash as he hit two homers. How do you top that? You top it by turning a 6-0 deficit into a 10-6 win on Saturday with help from one of the craziest innings I've ever seen, featuring back-to-back batters striking out and reaching on wild pitches and followed by a Matt Duffy grand slam. Stockton graciously gave the JetHawks three extra outs to work with.

Lancaster Bottom of the 8th
  • Brandon Meredith reaches on a fielding error by shortstop Addison Russell.
  • Nolan Fontana singles on a line drive to right fielder Myrio Richard. Brandon Meredith to 3rd.
  • Joe Sclafani strikes out swinging.
  • With Andrew Aplin batting, wild pitch by Jose Macias, Brandon Meredith scores. Nolan Fontana to 2nd.
  • Andrew Aplin grounds out, second baseman Antonio Lamas to first baseman Max Muncy. Nolan Fontana to 3rd.
  • Pitching Change: Jonathan Joseph replaces Jose Macias.
  • With MP Cokinos batting, wild pitch by Jonathan Joseph, Nolan Fontana scores.
  • MP Cokinos walks.
  • Preston Tucker strikes out swinging. Wild pitch by pitcher Jonathan Joseph. MP Cokinos to 2nd. Preston Tucker to 1st.
  • Telvin Nash strikes out swinging. Wild pitch by pitcher Jonathan Joseph. MP Cokinos to 3rd. Preston Tucker to 2nd. Telvin Nash to 1st.
  • Tyler Heineman walks. MP Cokinos scores. Preston Tucker to 3rd. Telvin Nash to 2nd.
  • Matt Duffy hits a grand slam (6) to center field. Preston Tucker scores. Telvin Nash scores. Tyler Heineman scores.
  • Brandon Meredith strikes out swinging.
So how do you top that? How about a combined no-hitter, the first nine-inning no-hitter in JetHawks history, tossed by Kyle Hallock and Luis Cruz on Sunday. I was almost afraid to come to the ballpark on Monday. What next? Turns out, it was a fairly standard win despite the fact that the Lancaster team had to work around four walks issued by starter Blair Walters and three errors from 3B Carlos Perdomo in order to prevail.

Now for the truly random observations ~

Rodney Linares is a talker and an interesting dude. I could just sit and talk with him about baseball for hours on end. And I know I've said it before, but I really like his management style.

I could pick out the JetHawks coaching staff from a mile away just based on their coaching stances. The Alexander and The Ensberg are very similar, but for the fact that Alexander is a lefty.

The Linares is very no-nonsense.

But my favorite is The D-Rob.

Speaking of coaches, the most fun thing I learned about Morgan Ensberg while I was in Lancaster is that he looks at each Anthem singer, takes their measure and then guesses their Anthem time, which he then measures with his stopwatch. He was rather disappointed with himself on Monday for guessing 1:27, almost two seconds under the actual.

The best thing I overheard during the trip came from Athletic Trainer Grant Hufford upon seeing Telvin Nash hit the rail trying to catch a pop-up during BP, "Is the railing OK?"

Personally, I think Nolan Fontana bears a resemblence to one former Astros icon, and it's not just the chin hair and the flow. You be the judge.

And speaking of resemblences to Astros icons, there is something about 2B Joe Sclafani that reminds me of Craig Biggio, not facially at all, but his build and his mannerisms at the plate. Even though I've only seen the switch-hitter bat lefty so far, he's like a mirror image of Biggio in the box.

I simply loved meeting and talking to Andrew Aplin. He is truly a character (and if you saw my post-game interview with Kyle Hallock after his no-hitter, it was Aplin that video-bombed us).

The one player that surprised me more than any other was Matt Duffy. The change that I saw in him defensively from April 2012 at Lexington and May 2013 at Lancaster was night and day. I'll be writing more about him later.

Delino DeShields gets style points for his Mother's Day accessories.

As always, JetHawks' play-by-play announcer and media director Jason Schwartz is simply the best to work with. I enjoyed spending time with him and getting to meet Stockton broadcaster Zack Bayrouty and Eric Smith of the Antelope Valley Press.

Speaking of Bayrouty, he had a very tough four days in Lancaster as the Stockton Ports were swept by the 'Hawks, but the worst of it was undoubtedly when he found out (the hard way) just exactly what happens to a laptop when it gets hit with a foul ball.

Schwartz and Bayrouty convinced me that it was time for me to try my first In-N-Out burger as they waxed poetical over "cheese paper." I did so, and although the In-N-Out fries were amazing, I'll happily stick with Whataburger. And, yes, before you ask, I did go "animal style."

I'll leave you with a final observation. As tight-knit as last year's Championship-winning team was, this team appears to be even closer. And with all the incredible talent on the team, the sky is the limit.

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