Rippers fall after 13 innings
London Community News
By Jonathon Brodie/London Community News / Twitter: @jonathonbrodie
If you build it, they will come. In the case of the Frontier League’s and Forest City’s newest baseball team, the London Rippers are hoping to put up a beer stand at the stadium and some W’s in the standings to bring more fans to the park.
In the latter department London has been able to find the winning touch as of late, ripping off seven wins in as many games leading into Sunday’s five-hour baseball marathon against the Joliet Slammers from Illinois.
The Rippers would end up on the losing end of a drawn-out 13 inning game, but showed grit by battling from behind four different times; the biggest coming in the 12th frame with London down by two runs when Joash Brodin, the league leader in RBI’s and batting average, hit a single with the bases loaded to prolong the exhaustive mêlée.
The game was so long, both teams used up their complete pitching staff and London ended up having to turn to second baseman Tony Delmonico.
The Tennessee native practiced pitching earlier in the week and showed it in his first inning of work, the10th, by striking out three batters. In the next inning, Delmonico gave up two unearned before walking Slammers’ Kyle Maunus, who was eventually brought home after two hits for the winning run.
Most of the eight London pitchers had trouble finding the strike zone with six of them contributing to 14 Joliet batters walked.
“It was just getting to be a marathon, whoever can be standing at the end of the battle and unfortunately it wasn’t on our side today, but I’m proud of my guys,” said Rippers’ owner/general manager David Martin. “They certainly played hard and didn’t give up and that says a lot about our character.”
The wins and maybe even some exciting loses will hopefully translate into some Rippers enthusiasm, which was lackluster at times during the team’s six-game home stretch.
Nine games into the inaugural campaign at Labatt Memorial Park, London sits at the bottom of the Frontier League in attendance with an average 1,077 fans every time out compared to the league average of 2,292.
Friday night games draw the biggest turnout for the Rippers when it comes to home games with more than 2,000 people showing up in two games. The worst was last Tuesday (June 5) when only 427 fans came to the ball park to watch the Rippers’ first game of their longest home stretch of the season.
“We’ve had a couple nights where there’s been rowdy crowds and that’s exciting because that’s kind of what it could be,” said Rippers’ outfielder David Christensen. “I’ve seen throughout some of the games there’s been groups of people who have been super into it and rowdy and getting on the other team and that’s the atmosphere you want to play in.”
One thing Christensen probably noticed in the team’s home opener, the largest crowd for the Rippers so far at Labatt Park, was the large crowd standing by the outfield and they weren’t there to collect foul balls or heckle the opposing team’s outfielder during routine pop ups.
Instead, it was a beer garden that drew the large crowd that might have been just as filled as the grandstands. That has been the only Rippers game where alcohol was sold.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that to not be able to sell alcohol at a sporting event is ... ” Christensen said before cutting himself off. “If we had that it could definitely be a different story.”
Martin said he’s currently in the process of getting a liquor licence and hopefully fans will have a new beverage on the menu sooner than later.
“We have things to work out with the city still and work on our licence issue which was a big problem and wasn’t told to us,” Martin said. “We’re going to have to deal with that this week and obviously we want people to have a beer at the ball park when they come here.”
The Rippers’ head out on the road for a six-game road trip starting Monday (June 11) against the Florence Freedom in Kentucky.
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