What a nice way to start for the new Joliet, IL, Independent team, blanking Washington, PA, 7-0 behind onetime Chicago Cubs pitcher Billy Petrick. The 2,886 fans who turned out for the Slammers' debut in the Frontier League had to go away impressed with the fact the 6-foot-6 Petrick set down the last 19 hitters he faced.
SWEENEY, PASCUCCI ALSO IMPRESSIVE
The New York Mets must be pleased today to have their first reward for signing veteran Brian Sweeney out of the Atlantic League (Somerset, NJ) earlier this season. After two losses, the right-hander turned in six shutout innings in a 5-1matinee win at Indianapolis Thursday. Sweeney is now at 1-2, 6.35 for his first 17 innings.
Another Atlantic League grad, first baseman Valentino Pascucci, got the Bisons started with a two-run double in the opening inning. Pascucci took over the team lead in RBI with three for the game in which he was 2-for-2 with three walks. The former Camden (NJ) Rivershark has 19 RBI and is hitting .259.
Sweeney and Pascucci may get another teammate from the same league. Jason Botts had his contract purchased by the Mets from defending champion York, PA Thursday. Botts had hit safely in 13 of the first 14 games with a .370 average along with a team-leading four home runs and 13 RBI. If Botts is sent to Buffalo, he might cut into Pascucci's playing time, since both are basically first basemen and designated hitters.
NOT SO FAST WITH SECOND HAWAIIAN TEAM
At least one media outlet carried a story recently indicating the North American League could soon have a second team in Hawaii, this one in Hilo. Maui already has a franchise.
NAL CEO Kevin Outcalt sent us an email stressing that the league did not have a press release out discussing Hilo. It sounds like the Maui ownership is hoping for a second team in the Hawaiian Island chain, and who could blame them since it would bring in a partner so that week-long home series with teams from the mainland could be split into two cities. No one looks forward to a six-game series between two teams.
Meanwhile, the first steps are being taken toward building a 3,500-seat stadium in Fort McMurray, Canada. Speculation automatically includes the NAL as a possibility since Edmonton and Calgary, also in Alberta, have teams in the league.
PLAYERS GRATEFUL BILL BUCKNER IS TEACHING AS HE MANAGES
"I've been here (Brockton, MA, Can-Am League) for three years now and if there was one thing I was searching for, it was more knowledge of the game to get higher up and learn from these guys," shortstop Dominic Ramos told MassLive.com. "For them (Buckner and his staff) to come down to our level? What a blessing".
Buckner's Rox and the Pittsfield (MA) Colonials will play an exhibition game in Springfield, MA Saturday afternoon to get ready for next week's Can-Am opener.
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