A Salami For Soto (Villareal vs. Cloyd)

Allentown, PA (May 20, 2012) - I almost didn't go to this game. Country hick that I am, I wasn't keen on fighting the traffic again, and didn't particularly care for watching the game from the berm. Just too darn far away. But I decided to go to one more game before heading out, and I'm glad I did. Though they told me field level seats were sold out for this game the previous day, some had miraculously appeared by game time. Including some very good ones behind home plate, but I chose to sit over the Bats dugout, as usual.

Leadoff hitter Kris Negron at the dugout entrance.


Recently promoted Pedro Villareal started for the Bats.


Tyler Cloyd took the mound for the IronPigs.


Center fielder Kyle Hudson was caught stealing by Miguel Rojas in the first inning.


It was a controversial call, but the umpire got it right. Hudson was too far outside the bag. Rojas got his glove between Hudson and the base for the out.

Kris Negron has a tough time with a Kevin Frandsen fly ball in the fifth.


Lost in the sun, I assume. He did catch it, but ended up on his hands and knees on the grass.

Cody Overbeck singled, but was almost thrown out after he tried to make it a double, then changed his mind.


Pitching coach Ted Power comes out to try and settle down young Pedro.


The inning ended in a rundown. Derrick Mitchell was out at third.


It was center fielder Kris Negron to third baseman Chris Valaika to second baseman Willie Harris to first baseman Neftali Soto.


Soto tagged him as he went by.


But a run scored. 1-0 IronPigs.

When something good happens for the Pigs, like a run scoring, the giant Coke bottle on top the scoreboard shoots out fireworks.


(Was never able to actually capture the fireworks themselves, but you can see the smoke.)

I'm not sure what to make of Coca-Cola Park. There are some things I really like, and some that are just annoying. The constant entertainment is a bit wearing, though I guess some people like it. Here a staffer is sent out to the dugout to try and get a wave going. (Didn't work particularly well, but he kept trying.)


The grounds crew had different costumes and danced to a different song this time. ("Wipe Out.") Apparently, they are known as the "Dancing Dirt Dudes," or something like that.


I do like Coca-Cola Park's camera policy. Cameras and video recording equipment are allowed, as long as you don't block anyone's view of the game. Not many ballparks are that generous.

However, they are strict about making you stay in your section. Even in the last inning, when most fans have left, they don't let you into field level seats without a ticket. That seems awfully mean. I've never been to a minor league park where they checked tickets that late in the game.

Or maybe it was just the guy manning the section above the Bats dugout. He would not let anyone into his section without a ticket. Not only that, he harassed me about it, even though I had a ticket and was sitting in the seat printed on my ticket. He was gathering up the trash in the 8th inning, when he suddenly stopped by me and said, "You don't have a ticket for this section, do you?" WTF? I said I did, and he told me I was lying and demanded to see my ticket. I showed it to him, and he seemed very surprised. Then he asked me who gave it to me. I told him it was my ticket, I bought it at the box office, and I'd been sitting in the same seat all game. He then slapped my shoulder, like he'd been joking all along. What a weird guy.

The thing is, field level seats are $10, and berm seats are $7. It's not like the expense keeps people from buying field level tickets. If someone doesn't have a ticket for that section, it's probably because there weren't any tickets available, not that they were too cheap to pay. Why harass them?

They also ban scalpers from the premises, including the parking lots, and warn that scalped tickets will be confiscated. I guess it works, because I did not see any scalpers, even though both games I attended were sold out.

Aside from that one guy, I found the staff at Coca-Cola Park to be unusually welcoming and considerate. Just really nice people. All except the dictator of Section 107.

Anyways, back to the game...

The action picked up in the sixth. Dioner Navarro grounded out, then Pedro Villarreal hit a single. (It was a nice hit - very solid line drive to right field.) Willie Harris grounded out to the pitcher, but both runners advanced. Bill Rhinehart was IBB'd. Neftali Soto came to the plate with the bases loaded, two outs.

Boom! Deep to left...


Domonic Brown can only watch as it lands in the bullpen.


Rhinehart, Negron, and Villarreal wait for Soto at the plate.


And it wasn't even a rally-killer. Dorn and Valaika doubled, putting another run on the board. Bats 5, IronPigs 1.

Former Louisville Bat Tom Cochran pitched the 7th for the Pigs.


The Bats threatened again the 7th, but Dioner Navarro was out at home, trying to score from second on a Willie Harris single.


Villareal got in trouble in the 7th, giving up another run. Nick Christiani came in to get the last out.


Cody Puckett did not play. He coached first base.


He had a brace or pad on his arm, so perhaps he was injured.

Bats had another chance in the 8th, but Soto grounded into a double play.


Shortstop Andres Blanco to second baseman Kevin Frandsen to first baseman Cody Overbeck.


Bill Rhinehart out at 2nd.


Travis Webb pitched the 8th, giving up a run on two walks, a wild pitch, and a sac fly.

Soto catches a popup by Andres Blanco in the 8th.


The Bats weren't done. Miguel Rojas and Felix Perez singled in the ninth. It was Willie Harris to the plate, two on, two out.

From the mouths of babes...a little boy sitting behind me said about Harris: "No wonder he has a .200 batting average. His bat is really slow."

Of course, he promptly hit a 2-RBI double.


The Bats' new shortstop, Miguel Rojas, heads to the dugout after scoring.


Jordan Smith got the last four outs.


He gave up a leadoff double in the ninth, then got three groundouts, including this one by Miguel Rojas.


Bats win, 7-3.


Paul Janish ran out onto the field after the last out was recorded. He was wearing short sleeves, offering a better view of the brace on his wrist.


Gotta think he's going to need some rehab work before he can start playing again.

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