Written by Biko Skalla:
You’ll be hard pressed to find a crazier set of four games in a row this summer than what the Bananas went through this week. The first one was just bizarre, and the next three were all incredible contests with their own unique twists and turns throughout. I should have known we had a wild ride ahead of us when the week started out with a bang on Monday…
Joe Miller with an absolute laser beam to the dome on the first day of camp! A sign of madness to come for sure. (Author’s note: I’ll never forget when I was 5 I split my dad’s glasses in two with a wiffle ball right between the eyes in my uncle Matt’s backyard. I can still feel my bat cut through that ball like butter. Probably a top 25 memory in my life… Anyhow, proud of this kid, it feels great to hit a ball so hard and so precisely that you head shot an adult straight to the ground. Basically a modern day David and Goliath right here. And great presence of mind to take 2nd base on it too. You can call time and check on your coach once your safe with your two-bagger).
Less than an hour after Joe got sniped by young Ted Williams, the Bananas had their first man go in the 2021 MLB Draft as 2020 Banana, Cade Povich, was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 3rd round! The Cornhusker was followed by 2021 Banana, Tristan Peters, as the Nanners centerfielder went in the 7th round to the Milwaukee Brewers! An incredible accomplishment for the Saluki, and a bittersweet moment for the best team in the CPL that Tristan was a BIG part of, as the guys would now have to watch their favorite Canadian ship out well before the playoffs.
All in all 8 Bananas were drafted, with Jason Ruffcorn (18′), Dustin Saenz (19′), Ashton Schultz (19′), Daniel Lloyd (19′), Logan Workman (20′), and Josh Crouch (20′) all getting having their names called. The Nanners were tied with the Lexington County Blowfish for most former/current players drafted, and then the flamethrower from the 2020 Bananas squad, Zach Cable, got signed on a free agent deal by the Chicago White Sox, which I think counts as like half a draft pick, so shoutout Zach for pushing the Bananas just a little farther than the Blowfish. After the mayhem that was the draft on Monday and Tuesday, the guys were ready to rumble as they strapped on their kilts for St. Patty’s Day in July…
What a glorious, glorious sight to behold. Even more exciting than the guys crawling under each other to announce the starting lineup, was the way the team took the field…
Unfortunately, Tristan couldn’t play anymore for the Bananas since he was joining the Brew Crew family now, but there was one phenomenal result of him not being out in centerfield, and that of course was his ability to take part in his 2nd Players’ Dance of the summer…
I really think the Player Dances get better each and every night. Another dynamite performance for the guys and the perfect way to sent Tristan into affiliated baseball.
As far as the baseball goes, the Bananas came into the game 4-0 kilts dating back to their debut in 2018, and they turned to Ryan, My Soul Purpose in Life is Getting Bananas Fans Free Donuts, Kennedy, to try and keep the streak going. He faced the minimum 9 guys through 3 innings but the Blowfish got two groundballs through the infield to start the 4th, one for a single and the other for the rare seeing-eye groundball double. A sac fly and a safety squeeze brought home the first two earned runs of the summer for Ryan in his 28th inning pitched. That would be all he allowed over 5.2 innings of 6 hit, 4 strikeout, 0 walk baseball.
The weirdest part of the game was how unlucky the Bananas were on offense. They were barreling balls left and right, but their line drives and towering blasts were either hit directly to fielders or tracked down at the outfield wall by Lexington County’s speedy outfielders. The freshman from Clemson, Ricky, It May be Pure Luck But I’ll Take it, Williams, threw 7 innings allowing only an unearned run in his final frame thrown.
The Blowfish had snagged an unearned run in the 7th off Nathan, I Wish I Didn’t Throw Over 55 Innings at School so I Could Stay in Savannah for the Entire Summer, Dettmer. And then Lexington County broke the game open in the 8th on a couple singles, a walk, a hit batter, and a big time bases clearing double to take a 7-1 lead. The first single was off Nathan so that run goes to him (which is not what it says online but that’s a story for another day), and the other three were the first earned runs of the summer in his 10th appearance for Dylan, I Was Hoping Ryan and I Could Keep Up This Nonsense for an Entire Season, Cunningham. Nolan, Make Sure You Get My Mustache in That Picture, Daniel, threw a scoreless inning and a third, just giving up the double in the 8th (sorry DC) and a single in the 9th to keep Lexington County at bay.
The Nanners would scratch a run across in the bottom of the 8th, but fall to the Blowfish 7-2 for their first loss in the 8th game of the summer against Lexington County, and their first loss in their 5th franchise game wearing kilts. The statistic that best shows how unlucky the Bananas were in the loss is the fact that they hit 9 balls over 95mph whereas the Blowfish only had 4. Sometimes the Baseball Gods just aren’t in your favor.
Nothing was more painful throughout the whole night though, than when I checked Twitter after the game and realized what the loss meant for the Bananas profile…
Brutality. Also, what in the world is Timehop though? Looks like a cool game or something. That dino seems like a smart cat with those goggles. Color me curious.
One thing that anybody who experiences a Bananas game will tell you, is it doesn’t matter if the team wins or loses, the people will steal be partying their keisters off in the Party Plaza when all is said and done…
What a wild scene! Well happy St. Patty’s Day in July to everyone who was celebrating! No win for the first time in 4 years for the Nanners but a whole lot of fun for all either way.
The guys had to pack their bags and make their way down I-16, then take a beefy detour to avoid the bridge that got pushed 6 feet off kilter from a truck smashing into it, then get back on I-16 to then get off at exit 2 for a battle with the Bacon. Coming in with their first 2 game losing streak of the season 31 games in (that’s pretty nuts), the Bananas wanted to set the tone early and that’s just what they did.
Livan, “I’m the Captain Now” – the Pirate from ‘Captain Phillips’ (2013), Reinoso, shot a 359 foot dingaling to left to give the Nanners a necessary 1-0 lead. Then in the 3rd inning, Zane, The King of 3-2 Counts, Denton, got things going with a walk and Bill, “Did You Know I’m From California?”, Knight, followed that up with a single up the middle. Livan then picked up his second RBI of the night, as he chopped a ball to short to bring home Zane.
The Nanners had exactly who they wanted on the mound for a bounce back win with the CPL leader in strikeouts Joe, The Road Warrior, Miller, toeing the slab. Joe would give up 2 groundball singles in the 4th for the only run he would allow all night, as he struck out 7 in 4 innings of superb pitching. The southpaw pushed his strikeout total up to 57 for a 13 K lead over 2nd place in the league, and his 1.34 ERA is still 2nd best among qualifying arms, only trailing his teammate Ryan Kennedy.
Matthew, I’ve Never Seen a Jam I Can’t Escape, Steidl, got Joe out of a sticky 2-on, no-out situation in the 5th. Still a one-run affair in the 6th, Livan singled and Eduardo, Hit Me Baby One More Time, Malinowski, reached on an error, setting up what should have been the turning point of the game. Bryson, “Why Me?”, Bloomer, stroked a line drive deep down the left field line, easily scoring Livan and Eduardo to give the Bananas a 4-2 lead. That was what appeared to happen at least, before everyone realized that home plate umpire Jim, “Did I do That?”, Stros, called the ball foul. Now this ball bounced a good foot inside the line, and Tyler, “What in Tarnation is Happening?”, Gillum, nearly blew a gasket when he heard why Jim called the ball foul. It turned out that the Bacon 3rd baseman Logan, Friend of the Program, Fink, screened Stros from seeing where the ball landed, so the home plate umpire decided to call it foul based on the left fielder’s reaction to the ball rattling around the left field corner. Now, Malik, This Turned Out Far Better Than I Could Have Ever Imagined, Bond, had thrown his hands up because he thought the ball was stuck under the fence in left, but that was read by the home plate umpire, who obviously should be getting his fair/foul calls from players, as the ball being foul. Classic misunderstanding that worked quite well in Macon’s favor. Bryson ended up popping out, and the Bananas failed to bring home any runs in the inning.
Matthew then threw a scoreless 6th, before giving up a game-tying solo home run to Dondre, I Used My 5 Iron on This One, Bremner, with one out in the bottom of the 7th. Steidl was great in relief though, giving up just the 1 run in 2.2 innings thrown. The Saluki’s ERA did spike up to 1.84, as he’s now given up 2 of the team’s league low 5 home runs (and no, neither of them would have escaped Grayson Stadium).
Gillum, and Corey, “I’m Just the Pitching Coach, What do I Know?”, Pye, turned to Andrew, I’m Taking This Puppy Home, Armstrong, to get the final out of the 7th. After a couple checks on Jacob, The Two-Timer, Pierce, at first base, Andrew threw one pitch and Pierce tried to take second on it, but was denied access to scoring position by Nick, “NO STEALS FOR YOU!”, Clarno. Andrew then tossed a scoreless 8th inning, (with his 4th runner picked off this summer), and stranded a leadoff single in the 9th to send the game to extras.
Jesse, “Sucks for the Bacon That I’m the Free Lead Runner”, Sherrill, and Drew, “Yea Sucks for Them That I’m on Too, Right Jesse?”, Yniesta, were placed on 2nd and 1st base to start the 10th inning. Carson, This Will Make Jesse Proud, Falsken, got the inning going with a perfect bunt down the 3rd base line for a base hit. Bill Knight then flared a clutch single to left-center to bring home Jesse for a 3-2 lead. Up walked Livan, who had had enough of this close game nonsense, and did this…
Livan hit the ball so hard that Twitter deleted my video the first time I sent it out to the world. It was obviously a big time swing of the bat, and Livan was fired up to come through again for the guys.
“It felt really good because I’ve been barreling balls all season and I’ve been patient waiting for that first home run,” Livan said. “I definitely got the most hyped when I got to home plate because my teammates were going wild and that really fired me up heading to the dugout.”
Andrew gave up 3 unearned runs in the 10th, as he finished up his evening with a game saving 3.1 innings tossed without an earned run while striking out 4. Andrew kept the Bacon off the board when it mattered most too, and said it felt fantastic to be able to keep the game going for his offense.
“It felt amazing because I feel like that’s the first game where I’ve really been comfortable on the mound,” Andrew said. “My mentality was really just to get it to the 10th so Livan can hit a grand slam and we can win this thing.”
The Bananas ended up surviving the fakakta foul ball call on Bryson’s liner down the left field line, to take down the Bacon 7-5. The best pitching staff in the CPL put the team on its back and let Livan’s 3-5, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 R, performance lead the way to victory. Also shoutout Bill Knight for his 3-5, 1 RBI, 1 R evening, as he hit right in front of Livan and made for a devastating 2-3 combo in the Bananas lineup.
As if the Bacon hadn’t had enough of the Nanners at this point in the summer, they then had to traverse the partially shutdown I-16 for a battle in Savannah. To add insult to injury, they had to face 4th year Banana Kyle, I’m Feeling REAL Good Tonight, Luigs, who in fact was feeling real good on Friday night. Kyle would strikeout 7 while chucking 6 innings of 1 hit baseball, to bring his season total to an even 50 K’s, as he is seemingly the only man in the CPL with a chance in the world at catching Joe Miller in the strikeout race (currently 7 back in 2nd place). Kyle’s ERA dipped down to 1.49, only good enough for 3rd in the league as he’s still behind Joe’s 1.34 ERA and Ryan Kennedy’s 0.61 ERA. Absolutely wild stuff.
It was Strikeout Cancer Night at the ballpark, and in the middle of the 5th inning there was a really nice moment for all those in the stadium affected by cancer…
Seeing the all the lights in the stands from our third base camera on the broadcast made for a powerful moment, and I know from those who were actually on the field or in the stands that it was even more impactful being a part of it.
When the cancer survivors, their loved ones, and their caretakers had left the field, the Bananas finally got things going offensively to backup their impressive start from Kyle. 5th inning Carson got plunked to lead things off, was moved to 3rd base on Jesse’s 2nd hit of the night, and then scored on Danny Oberst’s sac fly to center. The ball was handed to Jared, I’m Actually a Really Nice Guy When I’m Not Pitching Against You, Beck, in the 7th inning, and the 7-foot Pride of Davenport, Iowa, took the train all the way into the station. Jared retired all 10 Bacon hitters he faced (bonus out for a strikeout on a cross up on a heater that Bill, I’ve Had Better Ideas Before, Leroy, tried to catch with his bare right hand because his glove was in the dirt expecting a knuckle curve). Beck K’d half the men he faced, as he’s now struck out 27 in 10 outings and 19.1 innings of work, pitching to the tune of a 1.39 ERA. Yowza!
The Bananas got their second 1-0 win of the summer, both of them being 6 inning starts from Kyle, (Joe Miller was the first lefty to carry the 3 final innings torch this season), and the team got their league leading 9th shutout overall.
Oh I can’t believe I almost forgot to mention this! The Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Stan Grossfeld wrote a story about the Bananas! It’s a wonderful piece, and I’ll throw it in right here as it hit the online printing press on Friday…
The guys then had to rebound from their emotional win at home, as they were on the bus a pinch after 11:00am on Saturday morning for the long drive up to Spartanburg, South Carolina. What they didn’t know, is they were in for another one of their wildest games of the summer.
The night started terrifically for the Nanners, as Eduardo sent a solo home run out to left, tying Danny for the team high with 3 dingers apiece. Livan then grounded a base hit through the left side and Zane lined a single to right. With 2 outs Clarno shot a grounder through the right side to bring home Livan to make it 2-0. A couple pitches later Nick took off for second and when the throw went through Zane broke for home, sliding in safely just ahead of the throw from the shortstop to make it 3-0.
Tom, “I’m the New Tom in Town” (He says to Tom 8-0, the Spartanburgers mascot), Vincent, gave up 2 unearned runs (they were incorrectly ruled to be earned runs, which will change when I petition said ruling), on a 2-out, 2-RBI single up the middle. Tom would end up going 2+ innings without allowing an earned run (in my book), and striking out a pair of Burgers.
Cole, Back at it Again With My Two-Way Nonsense, Kitchen, came in with a man on and nobody out in the 3rd and stranded Tom’s runner. He struck out his 2nd and 3rd hitters of the night in the 4th while also walking a pair and giving up an infield single to load the bases for the most dangerous man in the Spartanburg lineup, Livan’s twin brother Dayan. Christian, I’m Just Here to do My Job, Dearman, got Dayan to bounce out to Clarno at 3rd to end the threat.
Quinn, A Flounder is Such an Ugly Fish, Mason, came in and threw a 1-2-3 5th inning. In the 6th, Bryson grounded a ball through the left side of the infield and then Clarno flared one into right-center and the throw to 3rd went out of play, sending Bryson home and Clarno to 3rd himself. Unfortunately, back to back grounders to short couldn’t bring Nick home, and the Bananas would have to settle for a 4-2 lead going into the bottom of the 6th.
Quinn started the inning with his 3rd straight strikeout, but then the 8-hitter reached on an error and the 9-hitter and leadoff man both walked while a run came home on wild pickoff attempt at first from Mason. He did bear down to strike out Cal Bocchino, the 2nd best bat in the Burgers lineup, but then walked Dayan to load the bases. Davis, “Yawl Trynna Catch Some Sand Tomorrow?”, Hare, gave up a 2-run single on his 1st pitch in and then a 2-run double on his 3rd pitch, and just like that the Spartanburgers were up 7-4.
The Burgers tacked on a very important insurance run in the bottom of the 8th on two singles and a double from their 2-4 Murderers’ Row and the Bananas had the tall task of mounting a 4-run comeback against Dayan in the 9th. With one out, Carson worked a walk and Eduardo lined a single to left on a 90mph slider (Dayan is no joke), setting up the moment we’ve all been waiting for this entire summer. Livan vs Dayan. Twin vs twin. For the first time in their entire lives they are on different organized baseball teams, and now for the first time ever we were finally getting them actually Mano a Mano. Dayan, pumping an easy breezy 96 off the bump, hummed a fastball for a called strike on his brother. He tried to sneak another one by him, but Livan was more than ready for the heat, lining a single into the right-centerfield gap to bring home Carson making it an 8-5 game. Round 1 goes to Livan! Unflapped by the incredible scene that just unfolded in front of him, Zane fouled off 4 straight 3-2 pitches to work a super dramatic 10-pitch walk to load the bases. Bryson then hit a squibber up the middle that scooted under the glove of the shortstop, bringing home Eduardo and Livan and pushing Zane to third base as the tying run. Clarno then ripped a ball but it was directly to short on a hop, and the Burgers turned an easy 6-4-3 double play to end the game as Zane stepped on home plate.
It was a tough loss to take for a few reasons. 7 of the 8 Spartanburg runs both came with 2 outs and were unearned. The Bananas have statistically been the best fielding team in the CPL this summer, but the Burgers were able to capitalize on a rare 4 error night from the Nanners. The boys also stranded 8 men on base, as the CPL leaders in sac flies left a man on 3rd with 1 out, and then later a man on 3rd with no outs. Plus, just the very impressive 9th inning rally against such a powerful pitcher on the mound falling short because Clarno crushed a ball directly to the shortstop is a brutal way to go out.
On the bright side, we did finally get the Reinoso showdown, and it very much lived up to the hype. Livan said he was supremely confident with his plan when it came to hitting against his twin brother.
“I told him after the game I knew it was gonna be a fastball,” Livan said. “I was very confident even in such a big situation because he wasn’t gonna blow it by me and if he threw me a slider in the zone I would destroy it and I knew he knew that was true too.”
Livan and Dayan are both extremely talented, and it was a true treat to see them finally actually doing battle against each other.
A handful of guys did have quite impressive nights at the plate in the defeat. Hitting 2nd and 3rd for the Nanners, Eduardo went 3-5 with the home run, and Livan went 4-4, all of them singles, with a walk, an RBI and a run scored. Hitting 5th and 6th in the lineup, Bloomer went 2-5 with a run and Clarno went 2-4 with an RBI and a walk.
The Bananas dropped to 28-6 on the summer and 5-1 against the Spartanburgers with the defeat, but are still a half game ahead of Lexington County in the 2nd half standings and 2.5 games ahead of the Peninsula Pilots for home field advantage throughout the Pettit Cup Playoffs.
The Nanners have a doozy of a week coming up, as they kick off 6 straight games when they welcome the Blowfish into Grayson on Tuesday night. Make sure to stay locked in on Bananas social media for all the wild pre, during, and post game content, as we’ll be pumping out gems on a record pace during the 6-game week! Only two weeks left, as we’re getting down to the nitty gritty of the 2021 season. It will be a blast to see how strong this incredible team can finish things out as they try to secure home field advantage for the playoffs and roll into August as the hottest team in the league!