Isotopes Notebook: Success Starts at the Top

By JON DARLING
The Isotopes Times

The Isotopes are 2-2, have been outscored on the season and there are a lot of low numbers when looking over everyone’s batting averages.

The slow start doesn’t have coach Jon Darling worried, and he points to one stat to why he thinks the Topes are the favorites to win the championship in 2012: .643 — the combined on-base percentage for leadoff hitter Kenny Jacobsen and Kurt Homer, who has hit second.

Jacobsen has been on a tear to start the season. In four games, Kenny is hitting .750 with an OBP of .786. He’s 9-for-12 this season with two walks.

Behind him, Homer has an OBP of an even .500 with three hits and a team-leading four walks.

“The guys at the top of the order are getting on base, that’s what they’re supposed to do and they’re doing it well,” Darling said. “The middle of the order is off to a slow start, but when the heavy hitters come around, there’s going to be plenty of ducks on the pond to drive in.”

Jacobsen and Homer have each reached base in the first inning in all four games this season and have been on base a combined 18 times in four games, yet the duo has scored only seven times.

“Historically, the top of the order has been an area of concern,” Darling continued. “Over the years, we’ve tried several different combinations up there, looking for guys to get on base for Tom Jachimczyk and Dave Gagliardi in the middle. Now, we’re found a combo that works, and we’re only going to score more runs as the bats come alive and the temperatures get higher.”

On top of the success at the front of the batting order is a stronger middle. In addition to Yim and Gags, the longtime combo in the No. 3 and No. 4 spots, Eric Marshall, Eric McAndrew, Ryan Walsh and Jeff Dacosta have made the lineup deeper. It’s a simple formula: Guys getting on base and good bats to drive them in. It’s a combo that’s gonna lead to a lot of wins.

Season Highlights

There have been only four games, but there are a number of noteworthy plays already in 2012. … Yim slammed a two-run, walk-off homer in the first win of the season, 15-14 over the Sand Demons. … In that same game, Homer platted two runs with a bases-loaded double on an 0-2 pitch with no fouls to burn. Also in that game, Dacosta, Ry Chabot and Patrick Long had back-to-back RBI singles with two outs in a big second inning. … Long had a beautiful opposite-field double down the right-field line and scored what proved to be the go-ahead run in a 7-5 win in Westport over the Wrecking Crew, a game that also saw Marshall throw a perfect strike from left field to hose a runner at the plate and Gags drive in the final run of the game with a long triple that arguably would have cleared the fence at Cushman.

Around The Bases

Walsh leads the team with five RBIs and boasts a .545 batting average … Chabot is off to a good start to the season, hitting .444 with two walks, making for a .545 on-base percentage. … Some other teams in the league count errors as hits, and while this isn’t the Topes’ policy, it does shine some light on who’s reaching on errors, i.e. who’s hitting it down and hard. Jordan Chabot is only hitting .285 on the season, but if counting errors as hits, his average shoots up to .571. … There have been 96 penalty beers so far this season (156 if counting preseason games). Jordan Chabot, Walsh, Homer, Dacosta and Mike Hochella have all had to make extra runs to the packie this year. … There has been no set make-up date for the rainout with KMP last Thursday, but the rainout with the Misfits will be made up on June 19 at Cushman in a doubleheader. … The Rose Alley Ale House has two cool new happenings that are worth checking out. First, on Monday nights from 8 p.m. to midnight, the bar is serving breakfast for dinner, complete with a variety of Bloody Marys. Also, check it out on Facebook for details on how you can turn your New Bedford parking ticket into half-off your meal … The jerseys are done and will be available on Tuesday. Compliments to Justin Estrella of Just Your Way Screen Printing in Westport. Find it on Facebook for more information.

Looking Back

From time to time, the Isotopes Times will look back at a notable game of yesteryear. Today, we take the DeLorean from Back to the Future to July 14, 2009, when the Topes were 18-3 heading into a 6 p.m. contest against the Wrecking Crew at Cushman Park.

After McAndrew led off the first inning with a lineout to third, Kenny came up and knocked a basehit to center. Yim followed with a two-run homer over the fence for an early 2-0 lead. The Topes fell behind, 4-2, heading into the third, when they scored five runs on back-to-back run-scoring doubles by Kenny and Yim. The Topes broke the game open with an eight-run fourth inning, highlighted by a three-run homer by Yim. The Topes cruised from there to a 19-8 victory, but not before Yim made it a three-homer game with a solo shot in the sixth.

Oh, Yim also pitched that game, filling in for former pitcher Matt Biltcliffe.

Yim’s evening took a disastrous turn when KMP rolled in for the second game of the doubleheader. He slammed a two-run homer in the first to give Rose Alley a 4-1 lead, but tore his Achilles in the third inning rounding second base after a single. KMP scored 10 runs in the fourth and went on to win, 14-13.

Yim’s statline for the night: 6-for-6, four home runs, a double, nine RBIs, six runs scored, seven innings pitched and one ruptured tendon.

Looking Ahead

Rose Alley will have its first of five doubleheaders Tuesday at Cushman against the Wrecking Crew (6 p.m.) and Sand Demons (7:30 p.m.). The week after is a home-and-home series with the Red Eyes at Cushman on Tuesday and Wednesday. Other games to check out around the Sandlot Softball League include: Bulldogs at Red Eyes (5/16), Sand Demons at KMP (5/17), Crew at Misfits (5/21) and Bulldogs at KMP (5/24).

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