I had the feeling Independent Baseball had produced more than the trio of four-home run performances I was able to report on in last week's Independent Baseball Insider column.
The Fargo (ND) RedHawks filled me in on Jesse Hoorelbeke's big day for them June 18, 2006, when he pounded four homers and drove in eight runs in the Northern League outing against Edmonton, which now plays in the Golden League.
Hoorelbeke, who currently plays first base for Bridgeport, CT in the Atlantic League, homered in the second, third and fourth innings, then finished with a three-run blast in the sixth. With three round-trippers and eight runs batted in in his last five games for the Bluefish, the big right-handed batsman shares the league RBI lead (95) with Southern Maryland's Pat Osborn and is one home run off the league lead. Somerset, NJ's Josh Pressley has 26 homers while Hoorelbeke and Somerset's Brandon Larson have 25 apiece. Hoorelbeke's previous career best in RBI were his 94 of last season, when he pounded 33 homers.
John Allen of Fort Worth, TX started all the current focus on four-home run games when he recently accomplished the feat in the American Association. Hoorelbeke's barrage was the third such feat in the Northern League, with Harry Berrios (Schaumburg, IL) and Ryan Jones (Winnipeg) both homering four times during a separate contests in 2000.
TWO CHAMPIONS IN TEXAS (SO FAR)--The Bay Area Toros (Texas City) and Amarillo have given the Lone Star State the first two Independent Baseball champions of the season. Bay Area swept two in a row from Texarkana to earn Continental League honors while the Dillas ended Alexandria, LA's two-year run in the United League. Brady Bogart's Amarillo club hit .325 and posted a 3.00 earned run average while winning the semifinal series in two straight over Edinburg, TX, then taking two of three from Alexandria.
American Association postseason play begins tonight (Monday) with two more Texas teams, Grand Prairie and defending champion Fort Worth, squaring off in the South and Sioux City, IA and Sioux Falls, SD going at each other in the North.
WHAT CROWDS IN AMERICAN ASSOCIATION--Weekend regular season finales brought out huge crowds in the third year American Association. Wichita, KS drew crowds of 6,093 and 7,076 to its last two games even though the Wingnuts missed the playoffs in their initial season away from affiliated minor league play and El Paso, TX, which also is sitting out the postseason, did even better at 7,288 and 6,718. Playoff-bound Sioux Falls, SD and Sioux City, IA went well above their season averages in their regular season finales. The Canaries lured 4,805 fans, nearly 1,600 above their season average, while the Explorers' 4,147 was more than double their average crowd.
QUEBEC GETS NO-HITTER--The Can-Am League regular season goes through Labor Day, but playoff-bound Quebec had another reason to celebrate Sunday when Orlando Trias hurled a no-hit, 3-0 victory at Nashua, NH.