Dogs Deficit Too Much to Overcome in Series Opening Loss
By Jack Ankony, Chicago Dogs
After fending off five foul balls in a row, Chicago Dogs second baseman Joey Terdoslavich waited patiently for a mistake.
He turned on a fastball from Luke Lind and cut Fargo-Moorhead’s lead to one run with a home run over the right field wall in the bottom of the seventh inning. Terdoslavich’s long ball to cap off an 11-pitch at-bat defined the type of resilience present in the No. 1-seeded Dogs’ clubhouse.
“[Terdoslavich] has been a huge addition,” Dogs manager Butch Hobson said. “He got to the big leagues because he could swing the bat.”
After an early 4-0 deficit, the Dogs rallied to make it a 4-3 game, but ultimately fell short in a 9-4 loss to the RedHawks in game one of the North Division Championship Series. It will now take the same kind of resilience Terdoslavich showed on Friday to win three of the next four game in order to advance.
But for catcher Ryan Lidge, the Dogs’ veteran clubhouse is built for these moments. They follow the lead of experienced players who have faced this kind of adversity, and even after a loss, they trust what has put them in a position to achieve what no other Dogs team has accomplished.
Lidge admits there’s more fire behind the Dogs’ approach to their first playoff series in franchise history, but it’s important to not allow a big-game atmosphere to change their mentality.
“A lot of times teams will play tight,” Lidge said. “They’ll think the moment is super, super big, and then they kind of fall because of that.”
Dogs center fielder Anfernee Grier was ready for the big moment and set the tone in the top of the first inning. Jordan George lifted a fly ball to center field, paving the way for Corelle Prime to tag up from third base in hopes of giving the RedHawks and early lead.
But Grier had different plans. He laced a frozen rope throw to Lidge at home plate, who tagged Prime out for the final out of the first inning, keeping the game scoreless.
“It was a big play from [Grier] in the outfield saying, ‘Hey, you’ve got to really work to get these runs, they’re not going to come easy,’” Lidge said.
Dogs manager Butch Hobson said 10 hits proves the Dogs swung the bat well on Friday, but 11 runners left on base speaks to the end result. The Dogs failed to drive in runners from third base with less than two outs in both the third and fourth inning.
The deciding factor, Hobson said, was the long ball. Christian Friedrich tossed seven innings while allowing nine hits, zero walks and four strikeouts, but each of his four earned runs came on home runs. Leobaldo Piña took Friedrich deep twice in his first two at-bats, and George’s two-run home run in the eighth off Ryan Clark was the dagger.
“The guys take 30 minutes after a game and dwell on ‘What if?’” Hobson said. “After that, it’s over with. There’s nothing you can do about it.”
The Dogs will look to their ace and American Association Pitcher of the Month in August Jordan Kipper for game two of the division championship series. Lidge said Kipper’s success in 2021 has come from his ability to get ahead of counts with his sinker and devastate off-balance hitters with a slider he developed in the offseason.
Attacking the RedHawks’ starter on Saturday is an important adjustment for Lidge, but staying even keel is the big-picture mentality in the playoffs. By claiming their first division title in team history, the Dogs have weathered the ups and downs of a baseball season, and for Hobson, game two is no different.
“We’ve had some tough losses and bounced back the next day and put a W on the board,” Hobson said. “That’s our plan for tomorrow.”