Beloit Snappers win home opener
BELOIT Oddball promotions are a staple of minor league baseball, and the Beloit Snappers will certainly honor that tradition this season.
Take the Monkey Act, slated for Aug. 26, in which—as 11th-year Snappers general manager Jeff Vohs described—consists of a “little monkey that dresses as a cowboy and rides a dog and herds sheep” on the field.
You’ll have to see that one to believe it.
But for the more conventional fan, the Snappers’ primary attraction this season may simply be a potent offense, as showcased in their 7-2 win over the Clinton (Iowa) LumberKings on Monday in the home opener in front of 497 fans on a breezy but otherwise comfortable night at Pohlman Field.
The win was a good way to kick off the 30th season of minor league baseball in Beloit.
“From what the (Minnesota) Twins (the Snappers’ parent club) told us and everything, our offense should be strong this year, and it’s showed these first few games,” Vohs said.
Indeed, after scoring five runs in its first two games this season, Beloit (3-2) has scored 19 in its next three.
After trailing 2-0 on Monday, the Snappers scored seven unanswered runs, five of them with two outs.
Beloit knocked nine hits and took advantage of three errors by Clinton
(1-4) for a pair of unearned runs.
“They’ve been making good adjustments with off-speed pitches,” fourth-year Snappers manager Nelson Prada said of his team’s offense. “They’ve got a good plan at the plate now. The first couple games, they were swinging at everything.”
Seven different Snappers recorded at least one hit, with left fielder Derek McCallum driving in a pair of runs. Beloit’s best offensive performance, however, came from left-handed hitting right fielder Daniel Ortiz, who finished a double shy of the cycle.
Ortiz went 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI, ripping a pitch from Clinton reliever Willy Kesler over the wall in right for a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth inning. Ortiz, a 2008 fourth-round pick out of Cayey, Puerto Rico, is now 8-for-14 with a double, a triple and two homers this season.
“He’s always been a good hitter,” Prada said of Ortiz. “He battled through injuries for a couple years. I think he’s a guy that, if he played the game a long time, I think he’d (have) a lot of hitting on his (resume). I think he’s a very natural hitter.”
Clinton took a 2-0 lead with four straight singles in the top of the second off Beloit starter and Moscow native Andrei Lobanov. After going hitless off Clinton starter Seon Gi Kim
(0-1) for three innings—Beloit picked up an unearned run in the bottom of the second—the Snappers took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth on two-out RBI singles from McCallum and catcher Kyle Knudson.
Run-scoring hits from shortstop Daniel Santana and designated hitter Oswaldo Arcia in the bottom of the fifth staked Beloit to a 5-2 lead, and the Snappers tacked on a run in the sixth and another in the eighth on Ortiz’s bomb.
Lobanov allowed just the two runs in four innings before reaching his pitch count, Blayne Weller pitched 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to get credited for his first win of the season, and Clinton Dempster came on with two runners aboard in the eighth and got the final four outs for his first save.
Yes, the promotions will be plenty at Pohlman Field this season, but Vohs is confident that more than fireworks and monkeys will draw fans to the ballpark as the Snappers search for their first postseason berth since 2007.
“I think it’s going to be an exciting team,” he said. “I know our coaches and the Twins are pretty excited. I think we have a pretty good team.”
BELOIT 7, CLINTON 2
Clinton (2)—Cerione, cf, 4-0-2-0; Morban, rf, 4-0-1-0; Morla, 3b, 4-0-0-0; Wiswall, 1b, 4-0-1-0; Romero, 2b, 4-0-2-0; Morris, dh, 3-1-1-0; Baron, c, 4-1-1-0; Littlewood, ss, 3-0-1-1; Rivers, lf, 4-0-1-0. Totals: 34-2-10-1.
Beloit (7)—Santana, ss, 4-1-1-1; Glad, 2b, 3-1-0-0; Ray, 1b, 4-0-1-1; Arcia, dh, 4-1-1-0; McCallum, lf, 4-1-1-2; Ortiz, 4-2-3-1; Knudson, c, 4-0-1-1; Williams, 3b, 3-0-0-0; Lin cf, 3-1-1-0. Totals: 32-7-9-7.
Clinton 020 000 000—2
Beloit 010 221 01x—7
E—Rivers, Kim, Morban. DP—Clinton 1, Beloit 3. LOB—Clinton 9, Beloit 3. 2B—Romero. 3B—Ortiz. HR—Ortiz. SB—Morban, Cerione, Santana. SF—McCallum.
IP H R ER BB SO
Kim (0-1) 5 7 5 4 1 2
Kesler 3 2 2 1 0 3
Lobanov 4 6 2 2 1 6
Weller (W, 1-0) 3.2 3 0 0 1 2
Dempster (S, 1) 1.1 1 0 0 1 2