BEST COLONIALS’ COVERAGE ANYWHERE!! THE PLANET PROVIDES COLOR, FLAVOR FROM LAST NIGHT’s HOME OPENER AT BWP, plus OUR GAME STORY: PAVLIK, JACKALS STIFLE COLONIALS IN OPENER, 8-4
PARONTO SETS THE BAR HIGH WITH “TRUE GRIT” PERFORMANCE
BY DAN VALENTI
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, May 27, 2011) — Great opener last night at Beloved Wahconah Park (BWP), though the Colonials fell to the New Jersey Jackals, 8-4. From the morning’s perspective, we share these observations:
* Chad Paronto demonstrated why he’s Major League all the way. First, after allowing five runs in the second, he comes back to throw four innings of one-hit ball. Second, after the game in the office/locker room he shares with manager Jamie Keefe, the starter/pitching coach took all the questions Josh Cutler, The Planet, and our good friend, the BB’s Howard Herman, could fire at him. That’s “stand-up.” In throwing those four dominant innings, Paronto set a tone for the staff. Without words, he said, “Fellas, this is how you do it. You get knocked off the horse, and you got two choices: Feel sorry for yourself and blame others OR dust yourself off, learn from it, climb back up, and ride. We want riders.” To deliver this moving pitching sermon, Paronto didn’t need one word, which reminds us of St. Francis’ dictum: “Preach the Gospel incessantly, and if necessary, use words.”
* Quote of the night by team owner Buddy Lewis, following the loss: “95-1,” he said, meaning the team will go on the greatest winning streak of all time. Of course, that’s not going to happen, but it reflects the optimism that a winning organization must have in and about itself.
* The key now will be to avoid a losing streak out of the gates. The Colonials play 20 of their first 28 games at home. They can’t get off to the 7-20 start of 2010. David Qualben gets the nod tonight at BWP against the Jackals. A lot rides on this game: 1-1 of worlds better than 0-2.
* Two reminders for the new P.A. announcer, who will be a work in progress: (1) Angel Molina’s first name is not pronounced “An-jel” as in Archangel Gabriel but “Ahn- hel” — In Spanish, the “j” is pronounced as “h.” (2) Don’t mouth to mic. It’s not a banana to be eaten but a sound stick into which you speak. His crowding and “too-close-to-the-mic syndrome” distorted his announcements. Easily fixable, if he will take the coachin.
* The music was better than last year, both in selection and volume. The Planet’s only gripe came with the selections in the last innings, which were hard, edgy, and played too loudly. No need to pump up the volume, whether its Chuck Berry or Metallica.
* The team did a good job of ushering. The plague of last year — that is, kids running around in the grandstand and standing in front of box seat holders in the first row hoping to get foul balls or autographs — was quelled. Staff promptly but politely told the few kids who tried that they couldn’t do that or stay there. The Planet even saw one mom actually parenting her child in that way. Wonder of Wonders. Stop the Presses, Josh!! We do remind the staff, though, that last year on Opening Day, the policing and ushering were great, but it soon degenerated. THAT MUST NOT HAPPEN THIS YEAR, or there will be lots of angry box seat holders.
* The left field beer garden will be a work in progress and needs to develop its own momentum and character. It wasn’t used much last night, unlike it’s Paley Ale-ey big brother on the right field side, which was packed from the thirsty first to the sudsy ninth. The 1791 Club looked busy in the early innings. Ran into Mayor Jimmy Ruberto there, sounding better than he did when he was wheezing earlier in the day on the phone with The Planet. [NOTE TO CONSPIRACY HUNTERS: YES, THE PLANET IS SECRETLY CONTROLLING THE CORNER OFFICE, PULLING STRINGS AND GIVING ORDERS IN BETWEEN LUNCHES WITH THE GOVERNOR AT BLANTYRE.]The mayor’s fighting a lingering case of bronchitis. Seated with Ruberto, none other than Andy Mick, publisher of the BB. We had a cordial visit and didn’t talk shop. That discussion comes after Labor Day.
* Things that Never Show Up in a Box Score — C’s spark plug, resident comic, and instant Feel Good guy catcher Chris “C.T.” Torres warming up the pitcher in full gear between innings … Matt Nandin’s hustling while running out a routine fly ball out … Angel Molina easing the frustration from his early and bad-looking K at bats with a single to left late in the game … The life showed by the C’s bench, even while down. They conveyed a sense of mates looking after each other … Good work by the bat boys, feeding the umps with baseballs, housekeeping bats and equipment, and generally helping the umps keep the game moving. The bat boys and girls need to know the game and what to do. The Planet has never been in favor of sticking a kid out there who hasn’t a clue. This is not a ceremonial job. To make it that is not fair to the game, the fans, or the kid. … Good innings in the eight and ninth by Taylor Wink and Mike Zenko out of the bullpen, who put helped build their resumes in the minds of Jamie Keefe and Paronto. … Fans enjoyed what’s become a BWP tradition: the Seventh Inning Stretch serenade of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” by Banjo Joe. Glad to see that the C’s have arranged for this.
HERE’S THE PLANET’S GAME STORY BY OUR PROTEGE, JOSH CUTLER.
BY JOSH CUTLER
PLANET VALENTI Sports
(PITTSFIELD, Mass., May 26, 2011) — Despite the pomp, circumstance, and excitement of a new season, Isaac Pavlik and the New Jersey Jackals silenced the bats and fans of the Pittsfield Colonials, as the C’s dropped their 2011 season opener, 8-4, before 1,223 at Historic Wahconah Park.
Former Major League pitcher Chad Paronto, a Pittsfield resident, gave up five runs on six hits through six innings. Paronto showed good command of the strike zone, walking one while striking out three on 97 pitches, 61 for strikes.
Paronto breezed through a 1-2-3 first inning on 10 pitches, but in the second, with a 1-0 lead, he struggled, giving up all five runs of his outing. Mike Jones kicked off the Jackals’ scoring efforts by hammering a 3-1 fastball over the right field fence with a man on to give the Jackals a 2-1 lead. Paronto got Mike DeJesus to pop out to catcher Scott Knazek with the bases loaded, with Knazek making a great grab just in front of the backstop grandstand. However, the Jackals’ offensive outburst would continue when Kris Sanchez scored on a Chris White fielder’s choice, making it 3-1.
Game Turns on Reyes’ Fluke Double
With two away, Argenis Reyes had what turned out to be the key at bat of the game. Paronto busted the left-handed hitting Reyes with what looked like a nasty down-and-in cutter, but Reyes got just enough of it to fist the ball inches inside the line in shallow left. The fought-off pitch went for a ground rule double and plated two more runs, giving the Jackals a 5-1 advantage.
Colonials Manager Jamie Keefe, in his first game as the franchise’s skipper, felt that the one bad inning set the tone for the rest of the evening: “You take the one big inning away and it’s a different ball game.” Despite the poor second inning, Paronto began to settle into his role as a starter, allowing one hit over the next four frames.
Asked if he thought his bounce back sent a message to the rest of the staff, Paronto agreed: “You have to have a mentality where you block that out.”
“If anyone told me going in that [Chad] would give us six innings, I would have said no way,” Keefe said. “I could see his legs were gone in the fifth, and I asked him how he felt.” The two decided on one more inning, which Keefe called “a statement inning for the rest of the staff.” He praised the leadership Paronto showed in coming back with four innings of one-hit ball.
Pavlik Cruised and the C’s Bats Snoozed
After allowing a first-inning run, the veteran Pavlik went on cruise control, setting down eight Colonials batters in a row until Matt Nandin drew a walk in the 3rd. Pavlik remained unscathed through the remainder of his outing, giving up five hits while walking one and striking out 10 batters in six frames.
Though he struggled through a laborious 2nd inning, Paronto was pleased with his outing: “I have to take the positives out of this start. It’s really going to take two or three starts for me to get really comfortable on the mound”. Despite a rising pitch count during the middle innings, Keefe elected to remain with the 15-year professional veteran, who hasn’t started regularly since the 2000 season: “Any other pitcher I wouldn’t put out there for the 6th inning.”
Paronto is pitching this season at home, having spent his career in the Major League cities of Baltimore, Cleveland, Atlanta, and Houston. As part of his role with the organization, Paronto is spending the early part of the season finding a proper balance between his personal and professional life: “Everyone understands my situation, as I’m going to have to build houses until noon, take my kids to school, and then be able to flip that switch [and turn into a player-coach].”
The score would remain 5-1 into the top of the 7th, when Colonials newcomer and Cuban defector Yosandy Ibanez was roughed up by the Jackals. After a Dejesus single and a White flyout, Reyes laced a triple off the center field wall to plate the sixth Jackals run. Leonard Davis then followed with a single to center, bringing home Reyes. The lefty Ibanez then allowed a single to Mike Leslie, but two wild pitches brought Davis plate ward to make the score 8-1.
Reyes, a former Boston Red Sox farmhand, paced the Jackals’ offensive attack with a 4-5 evening with three RBI.
Scott Knazek would add a solo home run in the 7th off of Jackals reliever Jared Locke to make the score 8-2. The Colonials would add two runs in the ninth inning, the product of a Jerod Edmondson RBI double and a Danny Bomback RBI single.
Lefty David Qualben takes the ball Friday evening for the Colonials, while New Jersey counters with James Leverton, a three-year veteran of the Chicago Cubs organization.
COLONIALS NOTES: Prior to the opener, the Colonials completed the reduction of their roster to 22 active players, releasing 3B Jason Taylor, INF Josh Lopez, and RHP Chad Robinson … Taylor, the Colonials starting third baseman in 2010, batted .306 with 12 homers and 45 RBI and garnered the Can-Am League’s Player of the Month award in July … Prior to the game, Lenox resident Caroline “Kim” Taylor, wife of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer James Taylor, performed “America the Beautiful” with Pittsfield resident Billy Keane … Keane also performed the National Anthem.