Baseball: Andrew Brauer finds groove at top of ThunderBolts batting order
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media August 17, 2014 7:46PM
Andrew Brauer is one of a few returning starters on a new look ThunderBolts team at the first day of practice for the Windy City ThunderBolts, Friday, May 2nd, 2014 in Crestwood. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 19, 2014 6:21AM
Andrew Brauer quickly has gone from the bench to the leadoff spot in the Windy City ThunderBolts’ order, and the Mokena native is taking advantage.
Entering Sunday, Brauer had gone 11-for-30 (.367 average) over his previous seven games while hitting at the top of the Windy City order.
It’s been a nice turnaround for Brauer, who struggled mightily in July — his average dropping as low as .213 — and didn’t get an at-bat between July 31 and Aug. 8.
The move back into the lineup has been bittersweet, however, as it took Ryan McIntyre injuring his wrist for the spot to open for Brauer.
“I’m happy for the opportunity, but unfortunately it’s happening because we lost a key guy in McIntyre,” Brauer said. “You never want to see a guy get hurt. I’m excited to be back in the lineup and want to try to help the team win as many games as we can the rest of the way.”
Brauer raised his average 22 points, to .235, over the previous seven games. He’s made things happen for the offense, scoring six times during that stretch.
“I feel comfortable in the leadoff spot,” he said. “I know what my game is. I’m not going to be a guy that’s going to hit a bunch of home runs or anything. I’m going to get on base any way I can and try to use my speed. That definitely fits in the leadoff spot.”
The T-Bolts are on the verge of being mathematically eliminated from the Frontier League playoff chase. That leaves the team with two things to play for over the final 16 games.
One is assuring they don’t finish in last place. Entering Sunday, Windy City was a half-game behind Joliet in its attempt to climb out of the cellar in the West Division. Those teams meet for a three-game series in Crestwood beginning Friday.
Realistically, the highest Windy City can hope to finish in the division is fifth. The T-Bolts came into Sunday 2½ games behind fifth-place Rockford.
The T-Bolts also hope to play spoiler. They have six games left with contending teams, playing three vs. Evansville and three vs. Schaumburg next week.
“We want to finish this off with some wins, have some fun and spoil some seasons,” Kyle Robinson said.
On the leaderboard
Robinson continues to lead the league in hitting, entering Sunday with a .369 average, and is closing in on the batting title.
Former River City catcher Josh Ludy, who’s no longer in the league after signing with the Oakland Athletics, still ranks second at .362. Joliet’s Grant DeBruin is next at .351.
T-Bolts pitcher Jake Fisher has made a sudden surge in the league’s strikeout race, ranking fifth with 89 — six behind Traverse City’s Casey Delgado.