Worried about rush hour traffic, I left my sisterís place early, just to make sure I was in Woodbury by 8:45. Traffic wasnít bad, so I was there before 8. By 8:15 or so, Scott (the man behind Territory Train
) had arrived, and the bus was there by 8:30. I was thrilled that we were 1.) on a Lorenz Bus
, and 2.) that our bus driver would again be Ed (the same driver from when I had gone on a Twins Train trip to Detroit two years earlier). There was even more good news, the bus had wireless internet and some electrical outlets. This trip was going to be great!!
The bus was supposed to depart Woodbury at 9:00 on Friday morning, but everyone was there early and the bus left at 8:45. We made one stop, in Mason City, Iowa, for lunch. Yes, I went to Buffalo Wild Wings! Yum! We arrived at our hotel in Moline, Illinois, at about 3:45, which is nice because we were able to get settled in a little and rested up.
We left for the Quad Cities ball park (which is in Davenport, Iowa) at about 5:00, knowing the gates opened at 5:30. I have to be honest. I was really, really excited about going to Modern Woodsmen Park. If you have seen the excellent baseball movie Sugar
, a lot of it takes place at this field. Being there was even more incredible than seeing it on TV or in a movie. The biggest thing is the bridge that creates a picturesque view for the stadium.
We got to the stadium, and got our tickets. We entered and got the free Quad Cities River Bandits door mat! Very nice! Once we entered the ball park area, the bridge certainly stands out. Its presence down the right field line is incredible, but the stadium is nice all around. They have a great scoreboard that provides instant replays. They have another big scoreboard on the right field wall that gives the mug shots of the hitter and his stats. For the River Bandits, they had a quote from the player. For instance, OF Virgil Hillís said that he is the son of two Olympians.
One person on the Territory Train is Josh Pettersen. He is Snappers infielder AJ Pettersenís brother. So when we got in, we were able to go down by the Twins bullpen and talk to AJ for 10 to 15 minutes before he had to go stretch and throw with his teammates. He wasnít in the lineup on Friday night.
Soon after, AJ brought over Snappers hitting coach Tommy Watkins who spent a few minutes chatting with the group. We talked about his time spent in Quad Cities in 2003. At that time, the Twins Low-A, Midwest League affiliate was in Quad Cities. However, they did not play a game in the ballpark the first two months of the season because the river had flooded.
I asked how far the water came up. ďOver the field? I asked?
Watkins chuckled, ďOh no! Up to that second level of seating and those suites.Ē Unbelievable!
Snappersí starting pitching Jason Wheeler walked by to start his pregame work. At 6-8, he certainly stands out in a crowd.
There were several fans from Beloit who had also made the trek, and many of the players were excited to see them. Some even went over and took pictures for them (like Miguel Sano and Jhon Goncalves below)
As you can see in the picture above, we had some very good seats. We were just behind the Quad Cities dugout, staring out at the field with the bridge over the top. Just a remarkable view.
And then the game started.
JD Williams started the game by hitting a long fly ball to deep left that the left fielder completely lost in the sun and turned into a double. A sacrifice fly and a couple of walks later, Drew Leachman came to the plate and drove in two runs on a single to give the Snappers a 3-0 lead.
Matt Koch singled to start the second, advanced on a passed ball, and then scored on a single by JD Williams to increase the lead to 4-0.
In the top of the third, the first two batters got out. Leachman singled which as followed by a wild pitch. Koch walked. Then Jairo Rodriguez singled in Leachman. The next batter was JD Williams and he blasted a long home run well over the fence in left field.
Wheeler walked the first batter of the bottom of the third. Four of the next five batters singled. By the end of the third innings, the Snappers lead was 8-3.
Letís advance to the top of the 5th
. Leachman led off the inning by getting on base on an error. Matt Koch hit another long home run to left.
Wheeler gave up two more runs in the bottom of the 5th
. He left the game having given up five runs in the five innings. (However, it was good enough to get credited with the win. He is now 7-1 with a 3.23 ERA.) The tall, left-hander didnít throw hard, but he was very cool on the mound. His fastball touched 89-90 ph. He had a pretty OK changeup, and a good curveball in the upper 70s.
David Hurlbut came in and went the final four innings. He gave up just two hits, walked none and struck out five. He looked pretty good. Like Wheeler, his fastball was in the upper-80s, and he appeared to have a pretty good change up as well.
Last July when Travis Aune and I went out to Beloit for three Snappers games, I believe we saw them score 3-4 runs in those games combined. It was nice to see the Snappers with an 11 run, 12 hit, 7 walk performance, and it was good again to see on Saturday night too.
Following the game, we were able to talk to AJ Pettersen for a little while longer as a very impressive fireworks display was taking place over the river in center field.
The Snappers got on their bus and made the drive back to Beloit. Territory Train
got back on its bus and we just went to our hotel. Because we had plans to meet with some of the players for lunch on Saturday, late-morning, we had to get up early in the morning.
Day 1 was a long day, but it was a really fun day. The bus ride was great and didnít seem all that long. Getting to see the ballpark in Quad Cities was maybe even something I would put on a baseball fanís bucket list. Talking to a couple of players and getting a few minutes to chat with Tommy Watkins was terrific. And topping that all off with a fun Snappers offensive performance and a win.
Day 1 was great. Check back later for my Day 2 notes. (I may include scouting reports on players in the Day 2 report, or I may make that a Part 3, dependent upon time and internet access on the bus today!)