Niagara Gazette

June 16, 2014

BASE PATHS: Power streak something to be proud of

By Doug Smith
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — You know you’re at a Niagara Power game when your team has won seven in a row and the manager’s highest priority is maintaining humility.

Seven straight is great in anything, even putts conceded to your Dad on Father’s Day. In a short baseball season, it makes Billy Fuccillo seem puny. It’s seven percent of the season. The major-league equivalent would be 26 in a row.

Still, after the Bolts had rebounded to turn aside their brethren from Genesee Friday night, manager Josh Rebandt, said this: “We’ve got to stay humble.”

Indeed, pride does goeth before destruction (that’s Proverbs 16:18, not Olean 11-14).

And the Power’s 8-2 record through Saturday (this was written before the first pitch of Sunday evening’s game) was compiled against teams with records of .500 or less.

On the other hand, the seven-game streak went through five teams, and in five of the seven, Niagara came from behind, sometimes far behind, as in the 10-unanswered runs that beat home-opening Olean 14-11 in a 426-pitch marathon June 6.

Then there’s the destiny factor. First, there was Caleb Lang’s base-circling round-tripper vs. Syracuse on June 5. The third baseman’s reasonably-accurate, west-to-east throw looked like sunfire at twilight to the first-sacker, then caromed along the right-field sideline fence.

The outfielder, while throwing it in, caught his spikes in the wire so that the ball trickled away. Lang scored easily. Said one baseball expert, who had the misfortune to be taking his mid-game meal, “I thought it was one of those ‘Little League’ home runs until I heard the post-game play-by-play.” Final: Power 2, Salt Cats 1.

Friday night vs. Genesee, Hunter Bingham’s bunt attempt rolled toward first in foul territory, but before the infielder could make it official, it ticked fair and there was Bingham on base with what looked like a line drive on the league’s fractious scoring system. Four batters later Michael Crowley roped a double off the center-fielder’s fingertips and there was the Power ahead again, 5-2.

As Rebandt observed, there’s always somebody different stepping out; the eighth-hitting Crowley and, Saturday, Lang, who put up Gehrig-like numbers, 5 for 5 with two triples. Zach “Ginger Ale” Verner is taking all the fizz out of opposing bats as the closer of choice and pitchers cuffed around in one game (Blake Hohlbein for one) come back looking like Yu Darvish next time out.

Base Paths did not expect this after two one-sided losses to the experimental freshmen at Genesee. And starting last night at 5, the Power began a series of three games in 21 hours at Hornell, perhaps the best team in the league. Rebandt knows it can all change in a hurry, so his call for humility is wise. But on top of everything else, the Power has had two alumni (Rohn Pierce, Jordan Schwartz) selected in the major-league draft.

Base Paths can be proud. He’s got nothing to lose.

Signal Base Paths via pollyndoug@hotmail.com.