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Tigers: Manager adjusting to new field, team

Posted Jun 17, 2010 @ 11:46 PM

NORWICH — Asking Connecticut Tigers manager Howard Bushong what his team’s strengths are is unfair.

He’s seen some of his players before, even managed a few, but Bushong needed one look at his team’s new home after it relocated from Oneonta, N.Y., to determine what isn’t going to fly at spacious Dodd Stadium.

“You’re not going to play a power game in this park anyway,” he said. “That ain’t going to

happen. It probably didn’t happen a whole lot with Double-A guys. It sure isn’t going to happen with New York-Penn League guys.”

Playing in the short-season Single-A league will provide the biggest challenge any of the Tigers have seen up to this point in their careers.

“You’re not playing against the best kids in the country,” Bushong said. “You’re playing against the best world-wide.”

The Detroit Tigers affiliate will begin their inaugural season in Connecticut tonight when they travel to Troy, N.Y., to face Tri-City (7 p.m., WICH 1310 AM).

With a big home park, the Tigers will use speedy defense in the outfield from Jeff Rowland, P.J. Polk and Chao-Ting Tang, and hope speed can be used as an offensive weapon.

Polk’s 25 stolen bases at the University of Tennessee were third-best in the Southeastern Conference, while Rowland swiped 56 bases over three years at Georgia Tech.

“I feel like I have plus-speed,” Polk said. “I just want to get on base and wreck havoc on the bases and score some runs.”

The most likely source of power in the lineup will be first baseman James Robbins. Last year with the Tigers’ Gulf Coast League team, he hit .361 with two homers and seven RBIs in nine games. At 19, there’s ample time for him to grow into a bona fide slugger.

Robbins’ bat and solid defense led Baseball America to name him the Detroit Tigers’ 29th-best prospect after last season.

“This is going to be a nice challenge for him; this is a good league,” Bushong said. “Boy, you grow up in a hurry or you get eaten up. He’s a good player.”

The middle of the infield will be manned by Alexander Nunez and Bristol native Brett Anderson at second and shortstop, respectively. Anderson played third in the past but was listed originally as an outfielder. Detroit moved him to where he will play in 2010 during his instructional league days.

Third base will likely be manned by former Holy Cross standout Matt Perry, who was a 41st round pick by Detroit earlier this month.

Behind the plate will be Tyson Kendrick, the first player ever drafted from Tabor College in Kansas. In two years at the NAIA school, Kendrick drove in 95 runs in 105 games.

The rotation starts with Clemente Mendoza. Last year at Oneonta, Mendoza went 5-5 in 16 games, 11 of them starts. He had a 3.19 ERA over 73 1/3 innings and struck out 50. He has a fastball in the low 90s, which is complimented by a two-seam fastball, curveball and changeup.

“I want to have a great year, better than last year and (hopefully) keep going on,” he said.

Following Mendoza in the rotation will be righty Luis Sanz, southpaw Rayni Guichardo, right-hander Josue Carreno and lefty Lance Baxter.

Tigers: Manager adjusting to new field, team - Norwich, CT - Norwich Bulletin

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Tigers: In-state player glad to be closer to home

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Pho Purchase this Photo Khoi Ton/NorwichBulletin.com.Khoi Ton/Norwich Bulletin From right, the Tigers’ Brett Anderson, from Bristol, and Massachusetts natives Matt Perry and Ryan Soares photographed Wednesday during media day at Dodd Stadium in Norwich. Connecticut starts its inaugural season tonight against Tri-City in Troy, N.Y.

Posted Jun 17, 2010 @ 11:39 PM

NORWICH — It’s a whole new world for young players such as Brett Anderson.

The teenager will be the Connecticut Tigers’ starting shortstop in their season and New York-Penn League opener tonight in Troy, N.Y., against the Tri-City ValleyCats. He looked out at the left field wall at Dodd Stadium during the Detroit Tigers Single-A affiliate’s media day Wednesday.

“They say it’s a graveyard out here,” Anderson, 19, said after hearing about how the ball seemingly dies in the outfield from two of his friends and fellow Connecticut natives, UConn’s Mike Olt and George Springer.

Olt and Springer played for the Huskies in the NCAA baseball tournament Norwich Regional at Dodd just a couple of weeks ago.

But Anderson will appreciate this graveyard after spending the last two seasons in Lakeland, Fla., with Detroit’s Gulf Coast League affiliate.

Anderson was sitting in the first row of seats alongside the first-base line at Dodd when he took his first look at the stadium.

“This is a lot different from the back fields at Lakeland,” Anderson said, swiveling his head to survey the 5,000-plus seats. “There were no stands there, nothing.”

Not to mention the heat and humidity on 95-degree days that “felt like 110.”

Anderson arrived at Dodd Stadium on Wednesday to “beautiful” weather: 70 degrees, overcast, and sprinkling.

The Bristol native is one of three New England products on the inaugural Tigers roster, along with Matt Perry from Sudbury, Mass., and Ryan Soares from Harwich, Mass.

Anderson’s story is a bit different than that of Perry and Soares, two college graduates. Anderson chose to take the direct route from Bristol Eastern High School to the pros, forgoing a chance to play for Division-II power Franklin Pierce in the process.

“It was a tough decision to make, going pro instead of going to college. But after the first two years in pro ball, it’s obviously been the right decision,” Anderson said.

Anderson’s career got off to a slow start. He hit .178 in 39 games during his first year with Lakeland and increased that to .216 in 30 games last season with five total extra-base hits in his brief pro career.

There is an upside, however. Anderson hasn’t yet hit his 20th birthday.

“There was a lot of great instruction (in Lakeland). All the instructors are really good and I feel like I’m in a good position. I’m still young and ready to go,” Anderson said.

What’s even better, he’s ready to go in front of his family and friends.

Anderson was bragging to his newfound friends, Soares and Perry, that he expected 50-100 Anderson supporters to be in attendance next Friday night when the Tigers play their first home game at Dodd Stadium against the Vermont Lake Monsters.

“It’s fantastic. Everybody loves having the situation of being close to family because you have the support system there,” Connecticut manager Howard Bushong said.

“That support is so important because you’re going to have down days. You’re going to have some tough times along the way and I think it’s going to be really good for (Anderson) because he’s been down in Florida for the last two years, been a long way from home, and hopefully, he will have some fans and it will energize him a little bit,” Bushong said.

Life has never been so hectic for Perry. The Tigers drafted the third baseman in the 41st round (1,243 overall) last week.

“I was just hoping for a chance,” said Perry, a third-generation pro player. “I’m coming from Holy Cross (where he had a .332 batting average with 52 doubles, 14 homers and 100 RBIs), not a lot of precedent there recently with draft picks, and it takes a lot for a scout to put himself on the line and push for a Holy Cross kid.”

From there, he has had a “couple of crazy days.”

“It really has been a whirlwind,” Perry said. “We were shipped down to Florida (last Thursday) for a physical and blood work, had a couple of workouts, and the next thing I know, we’re driving back to Connecticut.”

That’s right, Perry drove back from Florida after flying down the week before.

“I drove back from Florida with my roommate from down there just to keep him company because it’s a very long ride, but I’m thrilled to be back up here and now I think things are going to slow down a little bit as we get into a routine,” Perry said.

Slowing down is one thing Perry probably shouldn’t expect. He’s coming from a college system where players have a workout one day, travel the next and play the next to a routine where they do all three on the same day in some cases.

That’s not the only big adjustment, according to Bushong.

“Some will make the adjustment to (the wooden bat) without any problems and some are going to big time struggle,” Bushong said. “That’s the biggest adjustment, and then there’s the speed of the game, this goes a whole lot quicker than college, where they can take four hours to play. We play the game here in about two hours, 15 minutes to two and a half hours. We give a sign and we go.”

The wooden bat shouldn’t be a huge change for Perry, who has played in wooden bat leagues for the last three summers, including a stint last year with the Chatham Athletics of the Cape Cod League under the direction of Plainfield High School coach John Schiffner.

“I haven’t talked to Schiff since the draft happened, but I’m thankful that he gave me the opportunity to play on his team and I had a great summer down there,” Perry said. “I think that prepared me for playing with wood bats and facing top-of-the-line pitching.”

Soares was a little disappointed last week when he had to wait until the 36th round (1,063 pick) before the Tigers finally chose him.

“I went later than I thought I would, I had a pretty good year at (George) Mason (University),” Soares said.

Soares hit .438 with 13 homers and 71 RBIs while playing shortstop for the Patriots this past season, numbers good enough to earn him the Eastern College Athletic Conference Player of the Year award. He was also a semifinalist for the Wallace Award, given each year to the top college shortstop.

Now, he’s back doing what everybody else is doing, trying to find his way through the system and trying to get his name on the back of a jersey, battling possibly a friend in the hunt for a job.

“It’s a business, but as you go, you have to make friendships and be there for each other,” Soares said. “These bonds will probably stick with us for the rest of our lives, but we all know it’s a business and we’re all trying to reach the same goal.”

Copyright 2010 Norwich Bulletin. Some rights reserved

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Minor League Baseball: Tigers edged out in inaugural season opener

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Posted Jun 18, 2010 @ 11:45 PM

TROY, N.Y. — With the move complete and the roster set, it was finally time for the Connecticut Tigers’ debut.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, the Tri-City ValleyCats proved to be rude hosts.

After 44 years in Oneonta, N.Y., the Tigers, now based in Norwich, opened their inaugural season with a 4-3 loss to the ValleyCats on Friday night in both teams’ New York-Penn League opener at Joe Bruno Stadium.

Oscar Figueroa’s drive down the left field line off Tiger reliever Michael Torrealba (0-1) with one out in the bottom of the ninth scored Enrique Hernandez to give the home team the win.

Hernandez had sent a single to left and moved to second on Wilton Infante’s sacrifice bunt.

“All of them are a tough way to lose, but I thought the kids played hard,” Howard Bushong, manager of Detroit Tigers affiliate Connecticut, said. “Too many strikeouts, but pitching was good. For some of these rookie guys, they need to get games under their belt.”

Tiger hitters combined to strike out 14 times against five Tri-City pitchers.

Designated hitter Ryan Enos paced the Tiger offense with two doubles, and drove in two runs.

Enos staked the Tigers to an early 2-1 lead in the second inning when he sliced a ball down the left field line, past the outstretched glove of Tri-City left fielder Adam Bailey, scoring James Robbins and Brett Anderson.

Tiger starter Clemente Mendoza scattered eight hits in six innings with three strikeouts and a walk.

The 19-year-old worked out of jams in the third and sixth innings, and left the game with the score tied at 3 against the ValleyCats, a Houston Astros affiliate.

With the bases loaded and two out in the third, Mendoza got Hernandez to ground out to second and wriggled out of trouble in the sixth when Infante popped to third base with runners on first and second to end the inning.

Mendoza allowed a first-inning home run to ValleyCat right fielder Michael Kvasnicka, but kept the Tigers close with his 86-pitch effort.

“He did well, I’ve got no issues with his effort,” Bushong said. “He pitched well enough to win.”

Minor League Baseball: Tigers edged out in inaugural season opener - Norwich, CT - Norwich Bulletin

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Tigers record first win in team history

Posted Jun 20, 2010 @ 05:58 AM

Last update Jun 20, 2010 @ 08:58 AM

TROY, N.Y. — The first win in the history of the Connecticut Tigers is in the books.

James Robbins paced the 12-hit Tiger attack with two hits and P.J. Polk homered to support a solid effort by starting pitcher Luis Sanz as the Tigers cruised to a 7-3 win over Tri-City in New York/Penn League action Saturday night at Joseph Bruno Stadium.

“I’m very pleased, the kids played well,” Tiger manager Howard Bushong said. “It’s good to get the first one out of the way.”

The opportunistic Tiger offense staked the team to the lead in the third inning.

With runners on first and second and one out, Polk’s gounder went through the legs of ValleyCat second basemen Ben Orloff and into right field, scoring Eric Roof and sending Jeff Rowland to third base.

After Polk stole second base, Robbins greeted Tri-Valley reliever Brenden Stines by lacing a two-out line drive into right field to give Connecticut a 3-1 lead.

“Robby stepped up and had a fantastic at bat with two outs,” Bushong said.

Polk homered with one out in the fifth inning to increase the Tigers' lead to 4-1.

“He’s capable, its just a matter of him getting playing time at this level. He can do some things,” Bushong said.

Rowland’s single scored Ryan Enos in the sixth inning and Alexander Nunez scored on Roof’s sacrifice fly in the eighth.

Sanz (1-0) wiggled out of trouble in the first inning before settling down and finding his rhythm.

The righthander walked three batters in the first inning and nearly escaped the jam.

With two-on and one out, Sanz induced Tyler Burnett to ground to first baseman Robbins, who spun and threw to second for a force out. Shortstop Brett Anderson’s throwing error allowed Oscar Figueroa to score the game’s first run.

Sanz (1-0) went five innings for the win, allowing two hits with four strikeouts, three walks and no earned runs.

Shawn Teufel, Matt Little and Kevin Hess went the rest of the way for Connecticut

Tigers record first win in team history - Norwich, CT - Norwich Bulletin

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Tigers Notebook: Team coming together

Posted Jun 20, 2010 @ 09:02 AM

TROY, N.Y. — They might still need name tags to learn all the names, but camaraderie isn’t an issue with the Tigers.

The day after Friday night’s season-opening loss, many of the Tigers hung out together at the team’s hotel before coming to the Joseph Bruno Stadium for Saturday night’s contest with the Tri-City ValleyCats.

“The chemistry on this team is real good for just getting together,” shortstop Brett Anderson said. “There are no egos on the team. We’re just a bunch of blue collar kids ready to work. We’re on the bus and everyone is chatting up a storm.

While Anderson, the former standout at Bristol Eastern High, was hoping to get an assignment to the Western Michigan (Midwest League) affiliate in the Tigers chain, playing ball close to home is a good alternative.

“When I found out I was coming to Connecticut, it was unbelievable,” Anderson said. “With my family and friends, it’ll help make me more comfortable.”

One of 16 Tigers who donned a professional uniform for the first time Friday night, speedy P.J. Polk was happy to get his debut out of the way.

After striking out twice in his first three at bats, Polk had a chance to show off his speed with a bouncer over the third basemen’s head that Polk turned into a double.

“It was kind of a big relief, I was just happy to get that first hit,” Polk said. “I wasn’t nervous, but was too amped up. I settled down after the double. I’m just trying to get better.”

Polk is coming off a solid season at the University of Tennessee where the left fielder led the Volunteers with a .352 batting average and stole 25 bases.

Taking the hill

Lefty Rayni Guichardo will pitch today’s series finale for the Tigers, facing Murilo Gouvea.

Guichardo was 4-4 with a 1.73 ERA in 2009 for the GCL Tigers.

Tigers Notebook: Team coming together - Norwich, CT - Norwich Bulletin

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Tigers finish opening weekend with win

By SEAN MARTIN

sports@norwichbulletin.com

Posted Jun 20, 2010 @ 10:25 PM

TROY, N.Y. — With the finale of the season-opening series on tap, Connecticut Tiger manager Howard Bushong decided to jumble his lineup and give a few players their first action of the season.

Bushong’s strategy worked as the Tigers completed the first series in franchise history on a winning note with a 5-3 win over Tri-City in a New York/Penn League game Sunday at Joseph Bruno Stadium.

Matt Mansilla homered and singled while Matt Perry banged out two of the Tigers' nine hits to support the masterful pitching of 18-year old southpaw Rayni Guichardo.

Guichardo (1-0) went seven innings, allowing one run on four hits with three strikeouts and two walks. He was helped by his defense early as the infield turned inning-ending double plays in each of the first three innings.

“He is to be commended for the job he did — he was just outstanding,” Bushong said. “The defense played outstanding behind him. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the guys.”

The Tigers got off to a fast start.

Jeff Rowland singled to center on the first pitch of the game, and two batters later, the speedy centerfielder scored on James Robbins’ double to deep center.

The next hitter, Mansilla, drove the first pitch thrown to him this season over the left field wall to give Connecticut a 3-0 lead.

“We had an opportunity for a lot of guys that hadn’t played up to this point to play,” Bushong said. “They will be ready all the time. The chemistry here is outstanding. These kids get along well, and they believe it what they’re doing and what we’re doing.”

The Tigers added a run in the fourth when Perry scored on a wild pitch from ValleyCat starter and losing pitcher Murillo Gouvea (0-1).

In the fifth, Tigers rightfielder Chao-Ting Tang was caught off first base but was safe at second when Tri-City first baseman Tyler Burnett’s throw sailed high. The error allowed an alert Robbins to take home on the play to make the score 5-0.

With the runs on the board, Guichardo settled down in the middle innings, setting down the side in order in the fifth and sixth innings before losing his shutout bid in the seventh when Burnett scored on Buck Afenir’s groundout.

Guichardo was lifted after the seventh inning and was replaced by Logan Hoch, who pitched the eighth before giving way to Patrick Lawson for the ninth inning.

Lawson allowed two runs, one earned, but got pinch-hitter Nick Stanley to fly out to right to end the game.

Tigers finish opening weekend with win - Norwich, CT - Norwich Bulletin

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More a pitchability than pure stuff lefty, he's intriguing, but not many thinks he's a serious prospect....

Not many people think DSL or VSL graduates are (majority of the time). I always like to see them do well state-side though.

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I'm not sure I'd agree with that position....I think you'd find a fair sample of ardent Tiger fans -- meaning those that actually follow the minor leagues -- that think highly of players like Mercedes, Garcia, Martinez, Azcona, Machado, Moya, Lebron, etc.....

Guichardo is simply a pretty middling prospect at this juncture, few see much projection with his stuff, despite his youth....and that leaves most rather un-excited about him....

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Five-run frame dooms Connecticut

sports@norwichbulletin.com

Posted Jun 21, 2010 @ 10:41 PM

Connecticut starting pitcher Josue Carreno allowed five runs — all in the fourth inning — and the Tigers fell to the host Lake Monsters, 5-3, on Monday in Burlington, Vt.

The Tigers entered the bottom of the fourth with a 3-0 lead, but found themselves the victims of horrific turn of events. Stephen King led off with a double to center, and Wade Moore walked. Jason Martinson had a sacrifice bunt, but Carreno misplayed the ball, allowing Martinson to reach safely and load the bases.

Carreno then walked in two runs with back-to-back free passes to Rick Hughes and Jack Walker. A one-out RBI single by Blake Walker ended the Tigers pitcher’s game.

Michael Torrealba came in and issued a wild pitch that allowed Hughes to score. Chad Mozingo’s sac fly rounded out the scoring.

The Tigers (2-2) got on the board first with a second-inning blast by Matt Mansilla. It was Mansilla’s second home run in as many games.

In the top half of the fourth, Connecticut’s Alexander Nunez reached on a throwing error at short by Martinson. Then with one out, King’s error at third allowed Nunez to score and James Robbins to reach third. Josh Ashenbrenner doubled home Robbins with two out.

Copyright 2010 Norwich Bulletin. Some rights reserved

Five-run frame dooms Connecticut - Norwich, CT - Norwich Bulletin

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Mansilla matched his HR total of 2009 in just two games.

A guy to watch Mark? I have to admit, I knew nothing about Mansilla until I looked him up yesterday.

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Tigers lose to Lowell, drop third game in a row

By Staff reports

Norwich Bulletin

Posted Jun 23, 2010 @ 11:08 PM

When asked last week at Media Day in Norwich whom he fears most in the New York-Penn. League, Connecticut Tigers manager Howard Bushong immediately pointed to the Lowell (Mass.) Spinners.

The short-season Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox didn’t disappoint the Connecticut manager as they handed the Tigers a 6-1 loss in the first meeting of the two this season at LeLacheur Park in Lowell, Mass.

The loss was the third in a row for the Tigers and fourth in six games overall. The Tigers still have two more games at Lowell today and Friday before playing their inaugural home game at Dodd Stadium on Saturday night.

Connecticut started well against the Spinners as Jeff Rowland, who had three of the Tigers’ five hits, doubled to right.

A wild pitch moved Rowland over to third and Matt Mansilla knocked him home with a sacrifice fly.

Lowell (3-3) tied the game in the bottom of the second on a Brandon Jacobs single and a triple by Miles Head off Connecticut starter Clemente Mendoza (0-1).

The Spinners took the lead for good in the fourth on consecutive doubles by Jacobs and Head.

Tigers moves

Connecticut received a pair of players and sent two others out. Catcher Julio Rodriguez joined the team from the Tigers’ Low-A affiliate in Western Michigan and also learned that pitcher Robbie Weinhardt will join the team on a rehab assignment from Triple-A Toledo.

Connecticut sent infielder Carmello Jaime to High-A Lakeland and assigned pitcher Dan Gentzler to the Gulf Coast Rookie League.

http://www.norwichbulletin.com/sports/x383302084/Tigers-lose-to-Lowell-drop-third-game-in-a-row

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Big bats lead Tigers in laugher

By Staff reports

Norwich Bulletin

Posted Jun 24, 2010 @ 11:11 PM

Connecticut scored early and often, pounding Lowell, 13-1, on Thursday night in Lowell, Mass. It was more than enough run support for Luis Sanz, who along with three relievers, frustrated the Spinners’ lineup all night.

Sanz improved to 2-0 with an ERA of 0.90. He allowed six hits and three walks over five innings while striking out five. Tigers pitchers tallied 10 Ks on the night.

The Tigers scored a pair of runs in the second and third innings with the help of the Spinners’ defense.

Two runs scored in the second, Julio Rodriguez came home on Ryan Enos’ double play. Matthew Mansilla walked, stole second and scored on Chao-Ting Tang’s single to right.

Jeff Rowland opened the third with a single, a stolen base and advanced on a grounder to second. Josh Ashenbrenner’s sac fly brought home Rowland.

The next batter, James Robbins reached on a one-out throwing error at short and scored when Rodriguez (3-for-5, 2 runs) doubled to left.

That would be plenty for Connecticut, which also picked up a fourth-inning grand slam from Alexander Nunez.

Big bats lead Tigers in laugher - Norwich, CT - Norwich Bulletin

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Tigers: Connecticut finishes road trip with win

By MARC ALLARD

mallard@norwichbulletin.com

Posted Jun 25, 2010 @ 11:37 PM

LOWELL, Mass. — The Connecticut Tigers learned another valuable lesson Friday night; there’s nine innings in a game.

On the eve of their home opener, the Tigers could have easily called it a night after Lowell scored six runs in the bottom of the first inning, but Howard Bushong’s club displayed some resilience and rallied for an 8-7 win at LeLacheur Field.

“They never quit,” Bushong said twice to emphasize what his team had accomplished. “They kind of got down after the first inning, but they came back and had some great at-bats.”

Trailing 7-5 going into the ninth inning, the Tigers were down to their last strike before Ryan Enos (2-5, five RBIs) continued his role as hero.

Matt Mansilla drew a lead off walk to open the ninth against Lowell lefty Armando Zerpa. Ninth batter Londell Tyler singled and a well-placed sacrifice bunt by Jeff Rowland moved the runners up. Alexander Nunenz made it a one run game with a single to center. Josh Ashenbrenner worked Zerpa for a walk to load the bases, but the lefty struck out Matt Perry and had Enos down on an 0-2 count. After the next pitch failed to find Enos chasing, Zerpa came in and Enos golfed one over the head of Lowell shortstop Jose Garcia to score the game-winning runs.

“There were two strikes and I was just trying to be relaxed and see the ball,” Enos said. “He gave me a good one to hit, I didn’t hit it great, but God’s good and praise His hand for that because I didn’t hit it well.”

The Tigers (4-4) picked up where they left off on Thursday night when they scored a 12-1 win over Lowell, by scoring two runs in the top of the first inning on four consecutive singles by Rowland, Nunez, Josh Ashenbrenner, and Perry.

That’s when the adversity set in.

Rayni Guichardo was coming off a sparkling performance against Tri-City just five days before, but couldn’t repeat the seven inning, four hit, one run performance that he put together in Albany.

In fact, the 18-year-old southpaw couldn’t even get out of the first inning against the Spinners (3-5).

Felix Sanchez drew a leadoff walk and Garcia executed the hit-and-run to perfection, slapping a ball through the five-six hole. The single moved Sanchez to third. Guichardo then walked Kolbrin Vitek to load the bases and rightfielder Bryce Brentz used an 11-pitch at-bat to draw another walk and force Sanchez home.

Guichardo’s troubles continued when Brandon Jacobs had a solid RBI single to left. Miles Head ended Guichardo’s day when he sent a ball over the head of Jeff Rowland in center for a three-run triple.

David Renfro completed Guichardo’s line — six earned runs, three hits and three walks without getting an out — when he singled home Head to give Lowell the four-run lead.

But Connecticut refused to pack it in as it rallied with two runs in the third inning.

Perry led off with his second straight opposite field single to left and Enos brought him home as he took a Tyler Wilson pitch some 340-feet to right field for a two-run homer. It was the first career dinger for the Dallas Baptist University graduate.

“It’s kind of surreal, you dream of it for a long time, so it feels awesome to get it,” Enos said of his first pro-ball homer. “I knew it was gone when I hit it, but I was still running like a madman.”

The Tigers closed within one on an Ashenbrenner single, a Perry double (3-for-5 on the night, 5-for-11 on the season) and an Enos ground out.

While Guichardo’s performance may not have brought a smile to Bushong’s face, the Connecticut manager could take some solace in the performance of his bullpen. Brennan Smith, Michael Torrealba, Kevan Hess, Robbie Weinhardt (1-0) and Matt Little (first save) combined to pitch nine innings of five hit ball, giving up just one run, with six strikeouts and two walks.

“Our relief pitching was absolutely fantastic. They’re to be commended,” Bushong said. “They’re the ones who gave us a chance. They pitched their tails off all night long. I couldn’t have been more proud of them.”

Notes

The public address announcer for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, Carl Beane, announced the third inning of the game. Beane visits LaLacheur Park two or three times a season...Matt Perry had some supporters among the fans in Lowell. That’s not a surprise, Perry played his college ball at Holy Cross in Worcester and grew up in Sudbury, Mass. about 26 miles south of Lowell...The fan favorite for between inning entertainment was “Jumping Jack, the Frisbee dog”...Connecticut general manager Andrew Webber said Friday night that a little over 2,000 tickets have been sold for tonight’s home opener at Dodd Stadium...P.J. Polk, bothered with a sore hamstring since the third game of the season, could play for the Tigers tonight. Polk has three hits in 10 trips this season and one of the five Connecticut homers

Tigers: Connecticut finishes road trip with win - Norwich, CT - Norwich Bulletin

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...Connecticut Tigers fans embrace their new home team

By JAMES MOSHER

Norwich Bulletin

Posted Jun 26, 2010 @ 11:19 PM

Last update Jun 27, 2010 @ 01:59 AM

Norwich, Conn. — "Cowboy Up!” was a rallying cry for the Boston Red Sox and their fans earlier this decade. Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom is asking the city and surrounding towns to “Kitty Up!” for the Connecticut Tigers.

“I am calling on everyone in Eastern Connecticut, and especially in Norwich, to support this team,” Nystrom said shortly before the Tigers took to the field Saturday to win their home opener 7-1 at Dodd Stadium. “It needs to be a partnership. Everyone needs to step up.”

Fans were glad to have a team playing in Norwich, even if they haven’t yet formed a close relationship with the Tigers. Having the stadium vacant, even for just one year, after the Connecticut Defenders’ move to Virginia would have be disastrous, the mayor said.

The home opener attracted a crowd of 3,120.

“It is a tradition for us to come to opening day,” said Dick Dicapua, a former Norwich resident who lives in Woodstock. “We’re happy to be continuing the tradition with the Tigers.”

Dicapua bought 21 tickets to the home opener against the Vermont Lake Monsters. A family patriarch with baseball interest going back to the New York Giants of the 1950s, Dicapua had three generations of his family at Saturday night’s game.

Some relatives weren’t as enthusiastic about the new team or the sport in general.

“I just do it for grandpa,” said Olivia Peasley, of Plainfield. Her brothers, Chris and Connor, both baseball players themselves, like the new team, though.

“It felt sad (after the Defenders left) until I heard the Tigers were coming,” Chris Peasley said.

The Connecticut Tigers, who play in the New York Penn League and are a single-A affiliate of the Major League Detroit Tigers, are playing a shorter season than previous teams at Dodd. Fans said that was a positive, since April and May games were often too cold to enjoy and would dissuade some fans from coming later in the season.

“It makes more sense all the way around,” said Marko Fontaine, of Norwich, who has been coming to games at Dodd since 1995.

Marketing key

Fans are interested in the new team, but marketing has be precise, said Stephanie Johnson, of Willimantic. She cited a sign at West Town Street and Connecticut Avenue Saturday that read “Game Today” but neglected to list the starting time.

“It’s a great place to see a game, but everything needs good advertising to succeed,” said Bernie Gilbow Jr., of Willimantic.

Tigers management and employees were smiling.

“Everybody’s happy tonight,” said Nicole Skinner, of Waterford, while working the Rita’s Ice Custard booth.

“We’re beyond excited to be here tonight,” Andrew Weber, the Tigers general manager, said to the crowd before the first inning. “We’re looking forward to many, many great seasons here.”

Some of the ushers were senior citizens. Russ Maine, of Norwich, was eager to do more than show people to their seats, offering a litany of baseball trivia.

“The Tigers (management) are very good guys,” said Maine, working his first season at Dodd. “They want to make it nice for the fans.”

Nice is good, but there have to be other things, Nystrom said from beneath his Tigers cap.

“Winning is definitely a good strategy,” he said.

Connecticut Tigers fans embrace their new home team - Norwich, CT - Norwich Bulletin

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Connecticut wins home opener, 7-1, over Vermont

Posted Jun 26, 2010 @ 09:47 PM

Norwich, Conn. — Connecticut scored four runs in the third inning and it was all the Tigers needed as they scored a 7-1 victory over Vermont before 3,120 opening night fans at Dodd Stadium. Brett Anderson had a key two-run single in the four-run third inning while Londell Taylor, Alexander Nunez and Julio Rodriguez all had doubles in a two-run fourth for the Tigers (5-4).

Connecticut wins home opener, 7-1, over Vermont - Norwich, CT - Norwich Bulletin

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Connecticut falls to Vermont, 7-3

By MARC ALLARD

Norwich Bulletin

Posted Jun 27, 2010 @ 04:05 PM

Norwich, Conn. — Brett Anderson hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning, but it was the lone highlight for Connecticut as the Tigers lost to Vermont, 7-3, before 1,613 fans. Vermont (7-3) scored three runs in the third inning and three more in the fourth to essentially put the game away. Seven different members of the Lake Monsters drove in runs in the game. Connecticut plays host to the Lowell Spinners on Monday at 7:05 p.m. at Dodd Stadium.

Connecticut falls to Vermont, 7-3 - Norwich, CT - Norwich Bulletin

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Connecticut holds off Lowell, 6-3

By MARC ALLARD

Norwich Bulletin

Posted Jun 28, 2010 @ 10:10 PM

Norwich, Conn. — Five runs in the first two innings were all the Connecticut Tigers needed as they held off Lowell, 6-3, before 927 fans at Dodd Stadium Monday night. Julio Rodriguez and James Robbins knocked in runs in the first two innings to back the pitching of Clemente Mendoza. Mendoza held the Spinners (4-7) scoreless in the first five innings before yielding a pair of home runs in the sixth inning. Connecticut (6-5) hosts Lowell again Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m.

Copyright 2010 Norwich Bulletin. Some rights reserved

Connecticut holds off Lowell, 6-3 - Norwich, CT - Norwich Bulletin

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Connecticut Tigers clinging to 1-0 lead over Lowell

By MARC ALLARD

Norwich Bulletin

Posted Jun 29, 2010 @ 08:13 PM

Norwich, Conn. — An RBI double by Ryan Enos in the second inning has given Connecticut a 1-0 lead over Lowell through four innings at Dodd Stadium. Connecticut starter Luis Sanz has given up just two hits; a single by Kolbrin Vitek in the first and a base hit by Bryce Brentz in the fourth.

Connecticut Tigers clinging to 1-0 lead over Lowell - Norwich, CT - Norwich Bulletin

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...Tigers fall behind early, can't recover against ValleyCats

By Staff reports

Norwich Bulletin

Posted Jul 03, 2010 @ 10:42 PM

Connecticut allowed 10 runs in the first two innings in Saturday night’s game with Tri-City and lost 10-2 at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in Troy, N.Y. The Tigers dropped two of the three games in the series.

It didn’t take the ValleyCats long to put runs on the scoreboard. Connecticut starter Clemente Mendoza walked leadoff batter Ben Orloff in the bottom of the first. Enrique Hernandez doubled off the center field wall to score Orloff. Hernandez advanced to third base after a Michael Kvasnicka single, and later scored on a Tyler Burnett double. The ValleyCats tacked on two more runs for a 4-0 lead after one inning.

In the second inning, Mendoza continued to struggle. Orloff led off the inning again. This time he was hit by a pitch. Enrique Hernandez singled and Michael Kvasnicka walked. Ben Heath singled to right field to score Orloff and Hernandez.

Two more runners crossed the plate before Connecticut could record the inning’s second out. Mendoza was pulled after allowing nine runs and three walks in just an inning and a third of work. Logan Hoch luck on the mound wasn’t too much better. Andrew Bailey smacked a two-run homer over the right field fence to put the Tigers in a 10-0 hole.

The Tigers offense got going in the fourth inning behind Josh Ashenbrenner. Ashenbrenner singled ot start the inning and advanced to third after a Julio Rodriguez base hit. Ashenbrenner scored the Tigers first run thanks to a James Robbins groundout. Rodriguez scored later after a Tri-City throwing error.

After giving up the home run to Bailey, Hoch settled in nicely by striking out five batters in three and two-thirds.

Promotions

Two Tigers pitchers received promotions following the game. Right-handed pitchers Jordan Pratt and Luis Sanz will head to West Michigan of the Midwest League. Pratt has not appeared for Connecticut, but Sanz was 3-0 with 0.56 ERA in three starts.

Tigers fall behind early, can't recover against ValleyCats - Norwich, CT - Norwich Bulletin

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