Adams, Bennett Drive in Four Each in Dogs Victory
By Jack Ankony, The Chicago Dogs
Clinging to a two-run lead in the bottom of the sixth, the Dogs needed a clutch hit to secure a win over the rival Milwaukee Milkmen.
Dogs designated hitter T.J. Bennett kept his hands close, brought the barrel down in the zone and snapped a double down the right field line. Bennett’s fourth hit of the night drove in the Dogs’ eighth and ninth runs of the game in one of the most crucial contests of the season.
After dropping the first two games of the series, the Dogs claimed a 10-7 win on Thursday as Jeff Kinley slammed the door with 1.2 perfect innings for his eighth save of the season. Bennett and Johnny Adams powered the Dogs’ offensive attack with four RBI each to move a half game back of the Milkmen for first place in the North Division.
After temporarily retiring and becoming an assistant coach at Illinois State University, Bennett has been a vital addition to the Dogs lineup. Bennett is batting .341 in 88 at-bats and has driven in 15 runs.
Dogs manager Butch Hobson said Bennett brings a veteran presence to the clubhouse, and his love for the game fits seamlessly with the rest of the team. Bennett and the Dogs had to brave downpours at Impact Field on Thursday as standing water accumulated throughout the infield late in the game.
When the field gets messy like that, Hobson said it is a recipe for injuries. But the Dogs were ready for whatever was thrown their way, striking out just four times on Thursday night. The Dogs applied constant pressure to the Milkmen defense, finishing the game with 13 hits.
“When I was a little boy and they called me off the field because it was raining, I cried,” Hobson said. “If we’re playing, we’re playing. You deal with the conditions.”
Hobson said the Dogs have been swinging the bat well lately, but an area of improvement moving forward needs to center around cleaning things up defensively. The Dogs committed two errors tonight and have five errors over the last five games.
On the season, the Dogs are 17-7 when committing zero errors, but are 12-12 when committing one or two errors. Hobson said the Dogs have rushed a few plays recently, but clean defense was a strong suit earlier season when they won eight out of nine games.
With crucial win over the Milkmen on Thursday, the Dogs have now gained momentum heading into a weekend series with the Houston Apollos. Recent American Association Pitcher of the Week Jake Dahlberg takes the mound on Friday with a chance to start another Dogs win streak.
The Dogs and Milkmen have seesawed between first and second place all season, and the rivalry shows no signs of slowing down.
“If we play [Milwaukee] in the division playoffs, that would be probably the most fun I’ll ever have,” Hobson said. “We’ve just got to get there.”