Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Biscuits Play Ball!

Well, a new season is upon us and the Biscuits are ready so...

Brent Honeywell
Of course the Biscuits lost the home opener on Thursday, in spite of a prime-time effort from opening day starter Brent Honeywell.

#HoneyDay will be a thing for a while for Montgomery, every fifth day. It started strong by offering a full dozen punchouts in the first installment. While the prospect hurler fell victim to low run support, he earned solid a game score of 74. If you havent looked up the "game score" stat for starting pitchers, you should!

The bats were not silent. Cade Gotta and Nick Ciuffo had two hits each, Gotta and Granden Goetzman each drove in a run to account for the Biscuits two runs.
Nick Ciuffo

Three relievers took the hill, including Jose Alvarado who tossed a clean inning in his Biscuits debut.

The extracurriculars were plentiful, with the Air Show in town the dignitaries turned out in force. The flyovers were impressive, a P-51 Mustang accompanied by a pair of F-16's were a treat for everyone.

Early in the game a second flyover, lower and a little unexpected, took the crowd by surprise but that really added to the coolness. Kudos to those who made it happen, those are the special touches that fans really notice and enjoy.

Also the pre and post game tunes were excellent, live music provided by the Lo-Fi Loungers. Their retro sound brings a cool atmosphere to the park.

Friday Night the Skitz fell to Biloxi 5-3 on a chilly spring night.

After being shut out through seven frames, Bradys Boys tried to mount a comeback but fell short. Goetzman had three hits, including a triple, plus a pair of RBI's.

Braxton Lee turned in a highlight reel throw to nail a foolhardy baserunner at the plate, a true defensive gem from the gifted centerfielder.

Hunter Wood
Hunter Wood got the start, tossing over 90 pitches and striking out five while allowing just three earned runs before being chased in the fifth inning.

Diego Castillo
Edwin Fierro, Kyle Bird and Diego Castillo pitched in relief. Fierro and Castillo were making their debuts with Montgomery and kept the Shuckers at bay. Bird had a little trouble in his two innings, surrendering a home run.

Autograph Day
Yonny Chirinos
In a tight contest Montgomery fell 2-1 to Biloxi, dropping their first series.

Starting pitcher Yonny Chirinos made a herculean effort, seven innings of one run ball with five K's of his own.

Reliever Fernando Baez struck out five in two innings but was saddled with the loss, in part due to his errant pickoff throw in the 9th.

On the batting side, Riley Unroe had a pair of hits. Nick Ciuffo singled and later scored on a Mike Russell sac fly to account for the Biscuits only run of the ball game.

Before the game the team was seated at tables for autographs. Fans were bummed there was no team photo giveaway, but I had a chance to get the guys to lean in and took one that we can use for now!
Your 2017 Montgomery Biscuits

Greg Harris dealing with Monty behind him
Sunday the Biscuits would not be denied their first victory of the season, topping the Shuckers 6-1 in an afternoon tilt.

Starting pitcher Greg Harris tossed six good innings, striking out five and allowing just one run to earn his first double-A victory.

Reliever Diego Castillo handled the seventh and eighth frames to set up, Kyle Winkler worked around a walk in the 9th inning and the Biscuits first win was in the books.

Batting in the leadoff spot, Braxton Lee had two hits including his first home run. Not just his first of the year, it was his first longball of his pro career, and it was a No-Doubter.

Also homering was Granden Goetzman and Justin O'Conner. Lost in the homerun parade was Justin Williams, who had two hits and two RBI's.
Granden Goetzman sees a pitch he likes and drives it for a homer

Monday night the Biscuits took full advantage of nine Biloxi errors and trounced the Shuckers 13-6 in a game that wasn't as close as the score would imply. Sending nine men to the plate in the first inning and AGAIN in the second, the Biscuits extracted some form of revenge for losing the first three games.

Braxton Lee had a four hit game, Williams and Russell had two knocks each. Cade Gotta went 0-for-4 but still managed a pair of RBI's. Justin O'Conner's grand slam was his second homer in two days.
Three Biscuits wait to greet Justin O'Conner after his grand slam

The Biscuits stranded 17 men in the game, but still scored a bakers dozen.

Mike Franco
Pitching a dandy of a ballgame was Mike Franco, in just his fifth career start. With six K's, two runs (one earned) through four and two thirds, Franco almost earned his first win of the season but ran out of pitches before he could get one final out.

After 90 pitches Franco was lifted from his valiant effort and with no game the next day, skipper Brady Williams emptied the bullpen.

Edwin Fierro
First in was Jordan Harrison, followed by Edwin Fierro, Jose Alvarado, Brad Schrieber and Kyle Bird to close it out.

Fierro was awarded the win but the victory was a total team effort - that team effort being the Biloxi Shuckers! They matched the league record with NINE errors in the field.

This is the only time the Biscuits host the Shuckers this year, unless the teams meet in the playoffs. I won't miss them.

I don't usually dig on teams attitudes, but I have to mention that they were less than friendly. By that I mean they kicked Big Mo, swore at the Biscuit Bunch and refused to toss foul balls to fans in the stands. Rumor is that they deliberately lined up in the wrong order for introductions just to make our Opening Day look bush league.

And that's coming from a group of guys wearing an angry clam on their chest.

Kyle Winkler
When is Wink-Day? "Every day we have a close ninth inning lead!" Kyle Winkler can be seen in the closers chair, waiting and watching for his chance to shut the door and declare it ;)Day

GM Scott Trible is a music lover, he was proud of bringing the Lo-Fi Loungers for opening day and hopes to get them back again later in the summer. Good choice!

Andrew Velazquez is Squid. Obviously.
 When I asked why he was called Squid, he said "I don't know, ask them!"
When I asked other players, I was told "it just kind of evolved" that way. Good enuff for me!

I asked a cop outside the ballpark when the city might be finished working on the sidewalk across from the ballpark. "I only protect the streets, not repair em" was the reply that I couldn't help laughing about for a couple days. Word is that the city is hoping to have it completed before the next homestand, but that could be cutting it close.

Outfielder and first baseman Joe McCarthy may be the Biscuits team captain and he definitely wants you to follow him on twitter.

Joe McCarthy shadow-swings a homer
My understanding is that the baseball offices have been backed up abit and are in the process of approving the sale of the team to the prospective new owners. There should be plenty of coverage on it in the media when it is approved, which is expected sometime next month.

In a related story, an article in a Richmond paper last week suggested that the new ownership head, Lou DiBella, will enjoy getting to be more hands-on with a baseball team than he has been with the Flying Squirrels. It says that when the Richmond team is on the road this summer, some of their front office staff will come to Montgomery to help, but the article also implies that the Biscuits will keep or acquire new folks to work here.

All in all, I liked what I was hearing from the new owners and am optimistic that they will work to make our ballpark even better for fans.

Mondays game marked the first time the song "Bring on the Biscuits" was not played as the team took the field. The song was played with the announcement of the home team lineups and there it will likely reside for the rest of the season.

Goetzman and Honeywell greeting fans
This was at the specific request of the Biscuits starting pitchers, who hear the hokey lyrics "these Biscuits are gonna eat your lunch" from start to finish - often giving them about six bars of the music they have chosen to warm up to.

In another related story, due to a delay between the anthem and the first pitch of the opening game of the season, fans were treated to Brent Honeywells chosen warmup song in its entirety. All five and a half minutes of Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" were pumped out while the crowd wondered what exactly was supposed to be happening.

I later told Brent that he has the best warmup tune in the league - Iron Man was the first song I learned on guitar!

Wood wearing #3
Montgomery has two pitchers wearing single-digit uniform numbers in Diego Castillo #9 and Hunter Wood #3.

During this homestand exactly one foul ball and one bat hit the new screen over the dugouts. The new railing nets in the outfield were no problem for Justin O'Conner, whose grand slam in Mondays game hit halfway up the advertising on the left side of the jumbotron.


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