Friday, August 1, 2008
Last Game of the Regular Season...wow.
Fresh off their extra-inning triumph of the Torrington Twisters, the Navs took the field a mere half-hour later to conclude their regular season against a somewhat familiar foe, the Holyoke Blue Sox (does three games in just over 24 hours constitute familiarity?).
It had been a long day for the team:
1 p.m. - Board the bus from the hotel.
1:30 p.m. - Arrive at McKenzie Stadium for a 3 p.m. scheduled game against Torrington.
1:31 - 6:30 p.m. - Wait.
6:35 - 9 p.m. - Game vs. Twisters
Finally, after rapidly devouring pasta, prepared by Blue Sox employees (it was delish', by the way), the team took the field for game two of the day's double header.
Watching that game, the one element that caught my eye was this: The Navs were having a blast.
We had the pleasure of witnessing three unlikely men take the hill. Hear our assessments of each one's stuff:
Ryan McCrann (1 1/3 IP, 4 R, 3 H, 5 BB)
Former Postion(s): First baseman, third baseman, outfielder
Assessment: McCrann showed...potential? Ok, yes, he had some issues with accuracy (five walks). Yes, his fastball could use more velocity on his fastball. Yes, he needs to keep baserunners honest (six stolen bases). But hey, you give him a couple more innings, maybe let him do some relief work in the playoffs, you might have yourself a reliable pitcher...or maybe not.
Kent Graham (1 2/3 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 3 BB)
Former Position: First baseman
Assessment: Best way to describe Graham's pitching style: Deliberate intimidation. His routine is done very purposely; he wastes little time in between pitches, and when he gives up a base hit, he insists that the ball be returned to him so that he may promptly attack the next batter. He even attempted a pick-off throw; very impressive. He's got the heater down, now he just needs that off-speed pitch. Best part of his outing: Graham got Ken Gregory to fly out to left field to end the second inning. But before the ball was anyway close to finding Sean McNaughton's glove, Graham calmly walked to the Navigators dugout...too cool.
Mike Provencher (1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 SO)
Former Position: Outfielder
Assessment: Granted he faced two pitchers as pinch-hitters in the inning, Provencher was probably the hardest thrower of all the make-shift pitchers the Navs threw on the mound. He pitched solely out of the stretch, and threw all heat. When Provencher sprinted in from the bullpen as he entered the game in the fifth inning, you almost expected The Troggs - "Wild Thing" to come on the PA system. For the Red Sox fans out there, Provencher is the Navs' Jon Papelbon.
Joshua Garton (1 IP, 0 R, 0 H)
Former Position: Outfielder
Assessment: Garton had a modus operandi comparable to that of Provencher, but maybe not as high-energy. Still, he got the job done, though he threw to some pinch-hitting pitchers as well. Though it is unrelated to his outing on the hill, Garton must be commended for his defensive play in the bottom of the first inning. With the bases loaded, Craig Turner hit a reasonably-deep fly ball to Garton in right field. Alex Hilliard rightfully tagged up from third, as Garton made the catch from some 275 feet away. Two seconds later, Garton's throw hit catcher Frank Pesanello square in the chest, gunning out Hilliard at the plate. Looking at Garton joyously sprinting to the dugout, you could see smoke coming out of his hand.
The fun didn't stop there.
Chris Kowalski gave new meaning to the word "utility player." Kowalski has been known to ring guys up in the late innings of games, he's been known to drop bombs in batting practice, and come through with base hits in his pinch-hit opportunities. But last night, "Killer" played both first base, in which he made an impressive catch in foul ground, and shortstop, where, ranging to his left, methodically threw out Jeremy Nowak at first (Note: Nick Belcher was playing 1B at the time).
We also witnessed another one of the defensive plays of the year. With Ryan Krull pitching in the fourth inning, he had a ball hit his foot and fly 15 feet into the air. He looked around aimlessly, not knowing where in fact the ball had gone. Meanwhile, Kyle Geason sprinted in from third base, picked up the ball barehanded as it landed to the left of the mound, and fired it to Kowalski (playing first base) to retire the batter. It was not the first time Geason had hurled a barehander like that, but it certainly does not get old.
All in all, it was awesome watching the second game against the Blue Sox. The entire team was happy, and it was the ideal way to conclude a truly prosperous regular season.