Bennett, Hobson Power Dogs in Rout of Canaries
By Jack Ankony, Chicago Dogs
Facing a 3-1 count with two runners on, it was time for T.J. Bennett to get picky.
Brennan Metzger started the game with a walk, and Michael Crouse followed Metzger’s lead with a single. Together, the two saw nine pitches that revealed the game plan of Sioux Falls starter Blake Svoboda.
Bennett waited on a belt-high fastball and drove it over the opposite field wall to give the Dogs a 3-1 lead in the first inning. Bennett’s sixth home run of the year turned out to be the game-winning hit as Dogs starter Jordan Kipper and the bullpen held the Canaries scoreless in the final eight innings to claim an 11-1 victory.
“This team is just playing phenomenal right now,” Bennett said. “Hitting on all cylinders.”
Five of Bennett’s six home runs this season have gone to the opposite field, which Bennett recognizes as a strength in his game. Bennett takes note of the wind each game, and as gusts blew in from right field at 20 miles-per-hour on Sunday, the lefty knew working the other way was his best option.
Bennett was away from the team for two weeks as he welcomed his son Jireh into the world. While a two-week break might result in rust for some players, Bennett said getting away from the game usually helps his production at the dish.
Since returning to play on Aug. 6, Bennett is 5-for-12 with two home runs, eight RBI and four runs scored. Bennett said he is thankful that God helped his family stay healthy during the birth of his son and that gratitude is his prevailing feeling since rejoining the Dogs.
Bennett’s brother-in-law Seth also returned to Impact Field on Sunday as the Dogs’ bat boy and said Bennett’s newborn son may have helped carry the ball over the fence. Seth greeted Bennett with a bear hug after Bennett’s home run and provided energy in the dugout all afternoon.
“[Seth] is a guy that when he’s around, he makes everybody else better,” Bennett said. “He brings an atmosphere that helps you enjoy life because he enjoys every bit of it.”
Teammates joked that Bennett now has “dad strength,” which helped Bennett overcome the heavy winds on Sunday. When T.J.’s father Jim used to beat him in sports growing up, he would tell T.J. “someday you’ll have dad strength.” Sunday was that day.
“I do think I’ve got some dad strength in me,” Bennett said. “But really it’s just dad gratitude.”
After Bennett grabbed the lead for the Dogs in the bottom of the first, it was time for Kipper to go to work on the mound. The Dogs’ starter dazzled for six innings, allowing three hits, one unearned run, one walk and eight strikeouts.
Kipper’s dominance allowed for a comfortable Sunday afternoon win for the Dogs as they completed the series sweep. Seven Dogs drove in runs on Sunday in a well-rounded Dogs victory. The Dogs have now win five games in a row in what is shaping up to be a heated division race.
The Milwaukee Milkmen were swept by the Winnipeg Goldeyes over the weekend, which cut Milwaukee’s division lead over the Dogs to two games. As the playoff race intensifies, Bennett said it is important for the Dogs to focus on what they can control. And with positive vibes radiating throughout the dugout, the Dogs are gaining momentum at the right time.
“Today was great for the morale of the clubhouse,” Bennett said. “You can hear us laid back in there. We’re having a lot of fun. That’s how things get rolling.”