Mars Leads Rally as Dogs Win Rubber Match
By Jack Ankony, The Chicago Dogs
Throughout the Dogs’ first home series of the year versus Sioux City, a different kind of vibe has circulated Impact Field. Fans are excited to be back in the stadium at higher capacities, summer weather is beginning to show itself and and the Dogs refuse to chalk things up as a loss when facing early deficits.
“The call themselves a bunch of grinders and they do that,” Dogs manager Butch Hobson said.
Facing a 3-0 deficit after the first inning, the Dogs grinded out a 5-3 win on Sunday afternoon, which marked the fifth comeback win of the season. With a 7-5 record, the Dogs have proven to their opponents that a complete, nine-inning game is required in order to win.
On Sunday, the Dogs’ comeback came thanks to a four-run fifth inning. Danny Mars grounded a two-RBI single up the middle to tie the game, and K.C. Hobson gave the Dogs the lead for good thanks to an RBI double off the wall.
It’s hard for Hobson to pinpoint exactly why the Dogs have a knack for comeback victories, but he said part of it must be the atmosphere in the clubhouse and the excitement created by the fans.
“They come here every day with a good work ethic in the batting cage and the things they do on the field,” Hobson said. “So I think it’s just a matter of they come here every day ready to play.”
Hobson said this Dogs team is on the younger end when it comes to experience, so he thinks the five or six-hit games like today will eventually turn into 10 or 12-hit games once guys get their feet wet.
And the Dogs have faced their fair share of adversity, too. Joey Terdoslavich was one of the team’s better hitters a year ago, but now plays for Sultanes de Monterrey. Michael Crouse recently left the Dogs temporarily to compete in an Olympic qualifying tournament, which left the Dogs without their leadoff hitter.
Crouse hit 10 home runs in the leadoff spot for the Dogs in 2020, and led the league with 20 stolen bases. Hobson does not underestimate the impact losing of Terdoslavich and Crouse, and said it has taken everyone to make up for their absence.
“It’s just a matter of grinding every day and that’s what they’re doing,” Hobson said.
Hobson has a longstanding philosophy that the clubhouse atmosphere is related to team success, which could be another reason for the Dogs ability to come back and win games. Moving forward, Hobson said it will be important for the lineup to recognize when to be aggressive and when to be patient, but he is confident this approach will come around with time.
It has been hard to predict when the Dogs will have that breakout inning to spark the comeback, but when it does, the bullpen has been ready to shut things down. In Sunday’s win over Sioux City, the bullpen pitched six scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and three walks while striking out five batters.
Juan Echevarria shined in his 2.2 inning outing on Sunday and is proving to be a valuable weapon out of the bullpen. Kevin Marnon kept his ERA at 0.00 thanks to another scoreless inning versus the Explorers, and the flame-throwing closer Paul Schwendel took care of business to secure the series victory.
Whether or not the Dogs’ uncanny ability to come back and win games will continue is up in the air, but one thing that will not stop is the good vibes in the clubhouse that keeps the Dogs chugging ahead.
“They like coming here because it’s a beautiful ballpark,” Hobson said. “They like coming here because our fans are great. They like coming here because of the atmosphere of the clubhouse and the fact that they are quality gentlemen is the reason for that.”