What a trip (Crustacean Nation)
Wow. What a road trip the 1st-place Crawdads just had… especially after what was an ominous beginning to say the least.
The team really got it’s first taste of the effects South Atlantic League travel can have on you at the beginning of the trip. We played a tough one in Hickory two Fridays ago, and then had a nice 5:30am wake up for the 7am bus to Savannah… with a game that night.
To make matter less convenient, after the four and a half bus ride down to Savannah, we had to kill some time due to the rooms not being ready yet. Ok, not too big of a problem. Well, we killed some time, and a handful of rooms still weren’t ready, which significantly eats into nap time (nice for a radio guy, important for a ballplayer after an early morning wake up and ride).
So, needless to say, the series didnt start off quite as we wouldve hoped, dropping that night’s game then committing six errors, somehow coming back for a lead in the top of the ninth and blowing the lead in the bottom of the frame on Sunday to start the trip 0-2.
I’m not sure what changed, what clicked with a Sunday evening spent decompressing in Savannah, but whatever it was that sparked this team did so in a big way.
The ‘Dads came back and won the final two against the 1st place Sand Gnats (in the South) before cruising to a series sweep in Charleston, concluding the road trip with six straight wins.
A fitting exclamation mark occurred in the bottom of the ninth of the Crawdads 1-0 shutout win against the RiverDogs on Saturday night. With no one on and one out, closer Josh Lueke got C Kyle Higashioka to pop one into foul territory, mid way down the right field line, just past the Charleston dug out. 1B Mike Ortiz chased after it, got to the wall and was in the process of reaching out into the crowd for the pop fly when some blur flashed in front of him.
That blur, as it turned out, was 2B Joe Bonadonna. Bonadonna came flying over from the infield, dove for the pop fly, caught the ball in mid air above the first row of fans and crashed into the stands. It was remarkable… easily one of the best plays, if not the best play, I’ve ever seen in person. While trying to figure out how to describe what I had just witnessed, I compared it to the famous catch that Derek Jeter made against Boston, when he crashed into the stands in foul ground at Yankee Stadium.
Reflecting on the two plays, however, one crucial difference has become clear. Jeter caught the ball on the run and his momentum carried him over the wall and into the stands. Bonadonna dove, caught the ball in mid air over the wall and crashed into the stands. Now that this realization has donned on me, it’s become clear that I didnt do Bonadonna justice for equating his catch to Jeter’s — Bonadonna’s was more impressive.
Just one of many highlights from a great road trip, full of exciting action and a current six game winning streak on the field, as well as some quality off the field time taking in the sights and sounds of two great Southern cities – Savannah and Charleston (just about my all-time favorite).
Now, with the trip behind us, there’s only one thing left to do… keep the streak going on Monday night when the ‘Dads kick off an 8-game homestand, starting with four against the Asheville Tourists. It’ll be 2-for-1 Senior Night, courtesy of ResCare and 63 Big Ways 630AM, and kids get to eat for free on Monday with a ticket purchase. Plenty of reasons to come on down for the 7 p.m. first pitch, not the least of which being… who knows what this team will do next? I personally don’t have a clue, but I look forward to finding out with everyone else!
Andrew Buchbinder is entering his second season as director of broadcasting/media relations with the Crawdads. He previously served in similar capacities with the Bakersfield Condors (ECHL) and the Bakersfield Blaze, the ‘Dads High-A affiliate in the California League