Barringer, Big Inning Propel Dogs to Victory
By Jack Ankony, Chicago Dogs
Ryan Lidge roped a single in his first at-bat against the Cleburne Railroaders on Aug. 4. When he reached first base safely, Dogs hitting coach Joe Dominiak poked fun at Lidge.
“This is first base,” Dominiak told Lidge. “Second is over there, third base is over there.”
Dominiak jokingly explained the layout of the baseball field to Lidge, who, before that single, was 0-for-27 in an eight-game stretch. Lidge has led the Dogs in batting average all season long, reached a .404 average on July 19 and holds the second-longest hit streak in the American Association in 2021 at 18 games.
But even the league’s best hitters go through rough patches. Lidge put extra enthusiasm into his fist pump when he broke his drought on Aug. 4, and after a 4-for-7 start to the series against Sioux Falls, it’s safe to say Lidge is back.
Lidge returned to his normal self on Saturday night in the Dogs’ 4-2 win over the Canaries, going 2-for-4 with two singles and two runs scored.
“I feel great,” Lidge said. “I feel back. I feel like I never left. I definitely feel a little more comfortable in the box slowing the game down.”
Lidge said the number one issue during his drought was that his swing was too long to the ball. By analyzing video of his at-bats and working in the cage with Dominiak, Lidge put an extra emphasis on shortening his swing as much as possible.
“You’ve just got to fight through it,” Lidge said. “You can’t pout, you can’t complain, and it’s not easy. It’s easier said than done, but you’ve got to just work extra, extra hard to get over it.”
That Lidge’s batting average stayed above .340 during his eight-game drought is a testament to the incredible season he is having at the plate. Lidge said he holds himself to a high standard and couldn’t help but feel frustrated at points during this stretch.
Before each contest during the eight-game drought, Lidge told himself that “today is the day.” This reinforcement, along with support and advice from his teammates, helped Lidge keep a positive mindset during a stretch that included four-straight Dogs losses for the first time during the 2021 season.
But Lidge and the Dogs have put this patch behind them as they have now rattled off four wins in a row, scoring 27 runs in that span. Even though Lidge remains fourth in the American Association in batting average, his main focus is on team success.
“If I have a great season, then fantastic,” Lidge said. “But I’ve never won a big championship in my life, so this is one I’m here for.”
On Saturday night, Dogs starter Shane Barringer tallied his first professional win by tossing five innings, five hits, two runs, one walk and six strikeouts. Johnny Adams blasted his 10th home run of the season while T.J. Bennett, Brennan Metzger and Harrison Smith drove in the remaining three runs.
With a loss by the Milwaukee Milkmen on Saturday, the Dogs inch closer to first place in the North division. As the Dogs sit three games back of the Milkmen, a championship ring is the only thing on Lidge’s mind as he begins to swing a hot bat yet again.
“As long as the clubhouse is going good, we have the utmost faith that we’re the best team in this league,” Lidge said. “At the end of the year, we want to see our names at the top.”