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Baseball: The view from inside Slammers dugout offers a glimpse into the game

Reporter Tim Tierney watches from dugout as Joliet Slammers match up against Southern Illinois Miners Joliet Sunday Aug. 10 2014.

Reporter Tim Tierney watches from the dugout as the Joliet Slammers match up against the Southern Illinois Miners in Joliet on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014. | Mike Mantucca / For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 13, 2014 6:23AM



Lineup in hand and confidence in his stride, Joliet manager Jeff Isom walked to the end of the Slammers’ dugout to tape the day’s batting order to the wall.

The view from the dugout at Silver Cross Field less than 30 minutes before the game included the usual posting of names to face the opponent, players coming into the dugout from the clubhouse, gear in hand, and some chatter for teammates and bat boys.

A little while later, after Joliet players and coaches lined up in front of the dugout for the national anthem, it was game time.

Shortstop Max Casper and relief pitcher Sam Moore did a chest bump in the dugout, Isom shouted an encouraging “Let’s go’’ to his squad and the starters took the field for Sunday’s Frontier League contest against Southern Illinois.

With Isom at one end of the dugout railing and pitching coach Pascual Santiago a few steps over on the side, right-hander Ethan Carter delivered to Miners’ leadoff hitter, Jon Eisen.

A strikeout that ended a three-up, three-down first inning for Carter earned him a “That-a-boy’’ from Isom as the Slammers came off the field. Referring to effective changeups Carter had thrown, Isom told his starting pitcher to “Keep going at it.’’

As he came down the steps of the dugout, third baseman Grant DeBruin loudly said, “Let’s score first,’’ something the Slammers haven’t done too often this season. This time they capitalized on three walks and went ahead 2-0.

While Isom raised his arms a couple of times to position players, Carter retired the side in order again in the second inning. “Hey, good job’’ Isom told Carter as he returned to the dugout.

Meanwhile, DeBruin, Adam Giacalone and Matt Weaver exchanged thoughts on the pitches they were seeing from Southern Illinois lefty Jack McGeary.

Russell Moldenhauer liked a particular McGeary pitch in the third inning. After he struck out in the first, the Slammers designated hitter drove a McGeary offering over the right-field wall for a two-run blast.

That led to a pitching change for Southern Illinois, which prompted a trip from the third-base coach’s spot to the dugout for Isom to check on stats for Miners reliever James Woods.

As for how Carter looked to him, Santiago said: “Good, real good. He’s keeping the ball down, getting ahead of the batters real quick, not getting into too many 3-2 counts. He’s pounding the zone very well.’’

The Slammers led 6-1 going into the bottom of the fifth when Isom shouted, “Keep adding on, don’t stop.’’

With the Miners’ Phil Butler batting in the next inning, Isom briefly stopped to examine the flow of the game.

“You’ve got to see how the game’s going, see the situation, see where we’re at,’’ he said. “Right now we’re up 6-1. I’m always thinking two, three innings ahead of time. I’m already thinking ‘Who’s my eighth-inning guy, who’s my ninth-inning guy?’ even though we’re up five runs right now.

“It’s almost like playing chess. You’re thinking three, four moves in advance.’’

Butler then hit a short fly ball and Isom shouted: “Coming back, stay with it.’’

The Slammers did that, earning a rain-shortened 8-3 win in 52/3 innings.

“I liked we got out to the 6-0 lead early on,’’ Isom said. “Their starting pitcher was struggling with command and we took advantage.’’

The win raised the Slammers’ record to 29-45 with 22 games left in the season before Monday.

During Sunday’s game, the affable Casper told the dugout visitor he would have to come back if the Slammers won. Baseball superstition being what it is, Santiago repeated that expectation to the visitor after the victory.

There’s always next year.



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