Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Opening Day in Kenosha 2017

All photos of Kingfish 2017 home opener available on Flickr.

The 24th season in Northwoods League history commenced this past week and I was of course in attendance at a home opener, back in Kenosha for the 3rd consecutive year.  We unfortunately didn't get to the park in time for the blanket giveaway, which would have come in handy as temps dipped into the upper 50s by the end of the game.  Nonetheless it was another solid Opening Day crowd at Simmons Field.

I've definitely been spoiled by all of the renovations at Warner Park over the years and come to expect big things out of Big Top Baseball.  I always hope to see something  different every year I'm in Kenosha, and this year they finally got a working jumbotron.  It may seem to be an insignificant contribution toward the fan experience, but it really helps to be able to keep track of what is happening in the game.  Knowing who the batter is and their stats will help engage even the most casual fan.  And, you know, functioning inning tallies is always a good thing.  In the concessions department, one new add this year is a beer that is being specially made for several Northwoods League parks in a partnership between a Kenosha brewery and a Rochester brewery.  It's called "Five Tool Ale" and it was honestly pretty disappointing; it tasted like Miller Lite.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I would think a limited edition craft beer could be a little higher quality.  On a sad note, PA guy Aaron Sims appears to no longer be with the team.  He was in the same role with the Mallards for a long time and was one of the reasons I grew to love this league, and also one of the main reasons I drive all the way down to Kenosha despite the Chinooks being much closer.  He really knew how to energize the fans and create a lighthearted fun atmosphere, which is what this league is all about.  I'll probably still go to Kingfish games in the future, but it's definitely a big blow to the team that won't go unnoticed.

Other than that, it's business as usual for the Kingfish, who are now in their 4th season of operation.  The home team held on for a 9-6 win in a very slow and very poorly pitched ballgame.  Both teams combined for an unfathomable 20 walks in the contest.  The visiting Bullfrogs struck first in the 2nd, but then the Kingfish came right back with 6 runs on 6 walks and 3 hits including a 3-run homerun by appropriately named Derek Bangert.  Starter Alex Stodola had 4 of those walks and was relieved in the middle of the inning and charged with all 6 of the runs in the 3rd.  On the other side, Davis Schwab fared a little better in the run department only giving up 2 runs (1 ER) but also walking 4 of his own.  Justin Hasek started the 6th and nearly blew the game for the Kingfish, giving up 4 runs on 4 walks and a hit and retiring only 1 batter, but in the end they managed to hang on for the win with an 3.2 innings of scoreless relief to end the game.

Brewers 30-28, -- (4 v. Giants, 3 v. Diamondbacks)
Reds 26-30, -3.0 (4 v. Cardinals, 3 @ Dodgers)

Twins 29-24, +1.0 (3 @ Mariners, 3 @ Giants)

Erik - 4 (+10 worked)

Peter - 17

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