Baseball: Slammers aiming for big finish
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media September 1, 2014 8:22PM
Adam Giacalone, of the Slammers, is greeted at home by Seth Granger after his solo home run against the ThunderBolts at Standard Bank Stadium, Friday, August 22nd, 2014, in Crestwood. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 2, 2014 2:10AM
One might think with a 38-55 record, the Joliet Slammers wouldn’t have much to play for in the final three games of the season.
Judging by the team’s recent surge, which included sweeps in two of its previous three series, the Slammers are doing much more than playing out the string.
Adam Giacalone, who’s tied for the team lead in home runs with 10, delivered the game-winning single in Sunday’s come-from-behind 5-4 win over the Frontier Greys.
“No one’s thrown in the towel,’’ Joliet’s first baseman said. “We’re all fortunate enough to be still playing. We all want to take advantage of coming out every day, just try to have fun.
“There’s no pressure in these situations, nothing to lose. We’re all trying to get better and make the most out of the last three games. You never know, someone’s always watching.’’
Joliet’s final series of the Frontier League season starts Tuesday against the Gateway Grizzlies at Silver Cross Field.
“We’re not the team our record indicates,’’ Slammers manager Jeff Isom said. “We’re much better than that. We’re probably playing the best baseball we’ve played all season long right now. The guys aren’t giving in.’’
That includes Seth Granger, whose solo home run tied Sunday’s game at 4 in the ninth.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who are hungry to win and hungry to get better, that’s just how we are,’’ said Granger, who played for Isom last season at Lake Erie. “We’re about competing to the last game of the season.’’
DH Russell Moldenhauer, Joliet’s RBI leader with 58, had three hits and two RBI in his first two games back Saturday and Sunday since being sidelined for eight games because of a sprained ankle.
“The season hasn’t been like what we wanted it to be, but hopefully, we can keep the momentum going the next three games,’’ Moldenhauer said.
Among the league’s postseason honors, Slammers shortstop Max Casper was named the winner of the Fran Riordan Citizenship Award. It’s named after the current Florence Freedom manager, a league Hall of Famer.
Casper participated in many community events this season, including trips to local YMCAs, hospitals and a camp for foster children.
“It’s a great thing for him and the organization,’’ Slammers general manager Chris Franklin said. “He’s at the main entrance greeting fans before the games 75 percent of the time and he’s at every community appearance we do.’’
Down on the farm
Left-hander Blair Walters continues to impress since his Slammers contract was purchased July 15 by the Atlanta Braves organization.
Walters is 6-1 with a 2.33 ERA in eight games with high Class A Lynchburg (Virginia).
“He’s pitching his tail off right now,’’ Isom said. “Good for him. That’s what this league is about.’’
Former Slammer Jake Sanchez is 8-2 with a 3.49 ERA in 11 games with high A Stockton Ports (California) in the Oakland A’s system. Sanchez played 2012 and the early part of ’13 with Joliet.