Slammers fall short against Boomers
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media June 11, 2012 11:12PM
Joliet Slammers starting pitcher Steven Maxwell pitches against Schaumburg. | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 13, 2012 6:28AM
A victory in the 5½-hour marathon Sunday against the London Rippers made the trip back from Canada tolerable for the Joliet Slammers.
“A seven-hour bus ride home is a lot better with a win than if we had lost that game,’’ Slammers manager Bart Zeller said.
The entire bullpen was used in the 13-inning series finale, so the Slammers needed starter Steven Maxwell to pitch deep into Monday night’s game against the Schaumburg Boomers.
“We need a seven-inning performance,’’ Zeller said before the game. “We can’t afford to have a guy shut down after two innings.’’
Maxwell yielded only five hits over seven innings, but the former Texas Christian University star was done in by two long balls in a 5-3 Frontier League loss in front of 1,016 fans at Silver Cross Field.
Joliet (11-11) slipped back to .500 after ending a three-game losing streak with Sunday’s victory.
The Slammers didn’t go quietly in the ninth against the Boomers (14-8), scoring twice to get to within 5-3 after two outs. Both Hector Pellot and David Fox singled and later scored on errors. The tying runs were on base when the game ended with a fielder’s choice groundout by Zach Mandelblatt.
Joliet mounted a similar two-out threat trailing 4-1 in the seventh. The Slammers loaded the bases on base hits by newcomer Chretien Matz and Abel Nieves and a walk to Pellot, but an Erik Lis groundout ended the inning.
Pellot (3-for-4) had doubled in the sixth and later scored on a wild pitch to cut the Boomers’ lead to 4-1.
Fox later tripled in the inning, but was left stranded. Although Fox was batting just .238 going into Monday’s game, he had an impressive .389 average with runners in scoring position.
Like the Rippers in Ontario, the Boomers are a first-year expansion team looking to make a name for themselves in the three-game series against the reigning league champions.
Nate Baumann led off the second inning with a home run to give the Boomers a 1-0 lead. Maxwell then retired 10 in a row before back-to-back singles and a three-run homer by Gerard Hall made it 4-0 in the fifth inning.
Opponents were hitting only .230 against the Slammers’ pitching staff, lowest average in the league entering Monday’s games.
The Slammers play Schaumburg at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at Silver Cross Field before heading to O’Fallon, Mo., for their first series against the River City Rascals, who the Slammers defeated in the 2011 championship series.
The Slammers then will play nine of their next 12 games at home, starting Sunday, Father’s Day, with a 5:05 p.m. first pitch against the Traverse City Beach Bums.
That game likely won’t be as long as Sunday’s against the Rippers in Ontario. After Brad Netzel singled home Kyle Maunus in the top of the 13th inning with what proved to be the winning run, Slammers radio announcer Aaron Morse had this to say about the at-bat:
“Brad Netzel is only a triple shy of the cycle, not that he’ll bat again, I hope.’’
“That was probably one of the longest baseball games I’ve ever been a part of,’’ said pitching coach Carmen Pignatiello, a former Providence standout and Chicago Cub. “The biggest thing was getting the win. It would have been devastating to lose that game. We had numerous opportunities to finish it.’’