Sever’s first career blast lead’s Scrappers to 3-2 win
July 29, 2012
NILES - Eastwood Field is due for a name change. Eastwood Wetlands, maybe? Or even, Eastwood Atoll. Whatever it is, it’s wet. That didn’t stop the Scrappers from entertaining the Brooklyn Cyclones, though, on a muddy diamond that looked like it would be better served hosting a football game.
That was just fine for Joe Sever. Much has been made of his football roots, being the nephew of gridiron legend John Elway and all. And he manned the hot corner like he was right at home, making a few fantastic grabs amidst the mud and muck. But where he really made it count was with his bat.
Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth, the Scrappers had a chance to make something happen after a leadoff walk. Tyler Naquin couldn’t capitalize, however, failing to execute a sacrifice bunt that instead turned into a double play.
Joey Wendle followed that with a two-out single, giving the Scrappers one more chance, and setting the stage for Sever. Ahead in the count 2-1, Sever jumped on a ball he said he “thought” he could drive. He did indeed drive it a long way, as it cleared the fence in left field by plenty to give the Scrappers a 3-2 advantage. And not only did it give the Scrappers the lead, it was Sever’s first career homerun.
“It’s always something that’s on the back of your mind,” said Sever of his big fly. “I wanted to get that one out of the way. I was ahead in the count and I wanted to get something I could drive. I was lucky to get that pitch, and I put a good swing on it.”
Before any of that could happen, though, they had to wait. After heavy rains forced a postponement of Thursday’s game, and then cancellation of the second half of Friday’s doubleheader, Niles was again the target of monsoon-esque weather that made the Eastwood Field grass virtually unplayable. Though the rain subsided well before the scheduled start time of 7:05, the main issue came when the grounds crew pulled off the tarp. The water that was laying on the tarp drained into shallow left field, creating a supersize mud puddle just behind third base.
The grounds crew worked hard to clear the water, but the sheer scope of the project forced an hour delay before the game could begin. Even after working for over an hour pouring dirt and blow-drying with leaf blowers, the surface was still shaky. And it took a mere one batter for it to come into play. Like clockwork, the first batter for Brooklyn, Brandon Nimeo, blooped a ball just beyond third base that landed directly in the center of the slop.
“It was awful,” joked Sever of the pond that he was playing in front of. “Right after he hit it I was wondering if I should just step in there and get my shoes muddy for the rest of the game. Luckily things went better after that.”
That blooper led directly to the first run of the game against the Starter Luis Dejesus. With two-outs, Kevin Plawecki ripped a double into right-center that allowed Nimeo to motor all the way around from first.
For Dejesus, early runs haven’t been the norm. In fact, runs at all haven’t been the norm. Entering the game, he had only allowed six earned runs in seven starts, giving him a 1.42 ERA that placed him third in the New York-Penn League among starters.
The Scrapper offense was able to answer back in the bottom of the second for Dejesus, however. After Richard Stock doubled to lead off the frame against starter Hansel Robles, Logan Vick made his first at-bat as a Scrapper, delivering with a single up the middle. Then, with two-outs and runners at the corners, Andrew Campbell poked a ball into right field to bring home Stock from third at tie the game at one.
That didn’t last long, however, as the Cyclones answered immediately in the top of the third. With two outs and a runner on second, the playing surface came into play again, as Jayce Boyd delivered a blistering line drive into center field. The strong-armed Tyler Naquin fielded the ball and made a good throw home, but it was off line, as he couldn’t charge the ball or plant as aggressively as he normally would have. As it went, the Cyclones picked up a run, and took a 2-1 lead.
After that, the game turned into an absolute pitcher’s duel. Dejesus cruised through his final three innings, allowing only one baserunner that came via a harmless single. He would finish allowing just the two earned runs on five hits with a pair of strikeouts.
“I kind of started off rough, but towards the end I started feeling my legs more,” said Dejesus. “Me and [Hibbard] have been working in the bullpen on using my back leg more, and trying to use my body, and I felt like I had that in the fourth, fifth and sixth.”
Dejesus yielded to Scott Peoples, who pitched two innings allowing only a walk, and picked up the win. Cody Penny entered to close out the game after the Sever heroics, fanning the side to earn the save.
The Brooklyn pitching was equally as dominant. Robles made it through five, allowing five hits while striking out seven, before turning it over to John Mincone who pitched two umblemished. David Wynn was the reliever who victimized by Sever, getting the loss and blown save.
“It was a good, good win,” commented manager Ted Kubiak after the game. “Tony [Mansolino] and I were both standing there thinking Joe was going to hit one out. Lucky guess. He was definitely a hitter I know can do that. And it was a good clean game. We did some good things, moved some runners around. I thought they were going to have the only big hit. Turned out, ours was bigger.”
With the win, the Scrappers move to 21-18 on the season. They will host Brooklyn again tomorrow at 5:05 at what they hope is a much more hospitable Eastwood Field.
Matt can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or followed on Twitter @MMillerBaseball.