Baseball: Slammers’ 2013 season best goes well beyond the field
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media September 3, 2013 9:56PM
Joliet Slammers' Seth Schwindenhammer | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 5, 2013 6:26AM
The Joliet Slammers finish their Frontier League season on the road Thursday night against the Schaumburg Boomers. A look back at some of the best and worst from 2013 starts with an event more important than any statistic.
To Dave Laketa, the longtime official scorer for the Slammers and Joliet JackHammers, the “most memorable game of the season” was June 28 against Schaumburg for what happened off the field.
“Many in Joliet came out to support Addison Locke in her battle with hepatoblastoma,’’ Laketa said. “I think that night epitomized the kind of caring community we live in with almost 4,000 in attendance and better than $8,200 raised.’’
Seven-year-old Addison lost her battle with liver cancer and died July 19. Addison was the daughter of Erin and Steve Locke, the athletic director at Joliet Central.
The Slammers’ contribution increased the total raised for the family to $10,000, Laketa said.
The largest crowd of the season was 4,517 on Aug. 16 against Southern Illinois, a Friday fireworks night. The Slammers averaged just below 2,000 fans a game at Silver Cross Field.
The debate continues over whether weekday games should be moved up from 7 to 6 p.m. for the 2014 season.
Only three players remained on the roster at the end of the season from the Opening Day starting lineup: designated hitter Jerod Yakubik, third baseman Kyle Maunus and right fielder Seth Schwindenhammer.
In order, left fielder Matthew Scruggs, first baseman Goose Kallunki, center fielder Javan Williams, starting pitcher Evan Anundsen and second baseman Nate Wilder were released by manager Mike Breyman.
Shortstop Michael Wing was traded and catcher Ben Hewett retired both near the end of the season.
Going, going, gone
Nick Akins went into the season-ending series at Schaumburg second in the league in home runs with 20.
To scoreboard operator Eric Hansen, Akins’ walk-off grand slam for a 5-3 win July 14 against Rockford was the highlight of the season.
“With the bases loaded, the fans would have been fine with a game-tying single,’’ Hansen said. “But Akins unleashed a mammoth moonshot over the left-field wall. Slammers win. Game over. Drive home safely.’’
Best of Breyman
“That one inning was the inning from hell.’’
“He’s (Justin Erasmus) that guy you hand the ball to in the ninth inning and you’re pretty certain the game is over.’’
“Lately we’ve been finding new ways to lose.’’
For the record
The last time the Slammers were a .500 team this season was May 26, when they were 4-4.
A June 9 win at Schaumburg prompted Breyman to say: “If we get rolling and guys do what they can do, we’re going to be a lot of fun to watch.’’
The Slammers won their next two games to raise their record to 11-12, but that was as close as they’d get to .500.
Tell the truth
Rookie Marquis Riley, the Slammers’ lone All-Star this season, was a home run shy of the cycle after only three at-bats in a game early in the season.
“The last two at-bats I was definitely looking for a pitch I could drive out of the ballpark. Have a little fun with it,’’ he said.
That’s more like it
In a season that had more frustration than fun, six Joliet pitchers combined to no-hit Traverse City 4-1 on Saturday.
Chase Doremus, Lucas Goodgion, Jason Sullivan, Corey Kimes, Matt Dillon and Brett Zawacki earned the second no-hitter in franchise history. Andrew Moss recorded the first one in 2011.