30 Seasons on City Island: The 1998 Senators

This content was originally found in Issue No. 22 of this year’s Senators Program

1998-champs

APRIL

April 19: Second baseman Trace Coquillette went 5-for-6 with a double in a 17-0 win at Trenton. The Senators scored ten runs in the sixth inning. First baseman Fernando Seguignol singled and hit a three-run homer and Chris Stowers singled twice in the frame.

April 20: Seguignol and Stowers were at it again the next night as the former hit a home run in his third consecutive game while the latter’s RBI single capped a three-run, ninth-inning rally to beat Reading 11-10.

April 25: Coquillette cracked a seventh-inning grand slam and Jose Fernandez went 3-for-5 with two dingers of his own as the Senators beat Trenton 7-5.

April 27: Catcher Michael Barrett went 3-for-4, including a third-inning grand slam, and outfielder Scott Samuels went 3-for-3 with a homer and three RBI in a 10-3 win against New Haven April 27. The game capped a stretch in which Barrett went 12-for-21.

MAY

May 4: J.D. Smart threw six scoreless innings in a 5-0 win against Akron and he had not allowed a run in his first five games (1-0, 1 SV, 20 IP, 11 H, 2 BB, 15 SO)

May 8: Trace Coquillette hit a pair of home runs and Hiram Bocachica and Fernando Seguignol also went deep in a 6-3 win at Portland. Seguignol had homered twice the night before.

May 18: Three days after his extra inning, game-winning single, Coquillette was the goat committing a pair of errors in the seventh inning, his first two of the season, that led to four unearned runs and an 8-3 loss against New Britain. The Senators as a team were responsible for six miscues in the game.

May 19: Jeremy Powell threw a three-hit, 7-1 complete game win against New Britain. It was the first nine-inning complete game of his career and fourth overall.

May 18-20: Seguignol homered in three straight games against New Britain. He had gone deep in four of five games in the midst of getting a hit in 14 of his last 15 games. By the end of the month Seguignol, who was acquired from the Yankees a few years back in the John Wetteland deal, was leading the league in home runs (15), RBI (44), slugging (.649) and extra-base hits (26).

JUNE

June 15: Keith Evans allowed a run on three hits over six innings while Fernando Seguignol doubled twice, homered and drove in four runs in a 12-1 win against Trenton.

June 26: Jeremy Powell allowed fourth and sixth-inning singles over six innings to snap his three-game losing streak and help end a terrible slide for the Senators that saw them lose ten straight games and 21 of 26 at one point, batting just .180 with runners in scoring position over that span. In the nightcap of the doubleheader, Scott Mitchell tossed a three-hit, 5-0 shutout over Akron. First baseman Andy Tracy was promoted from Jupiter and homered in his first at-bat. In six games, Tracy went 4-for-15 with two dingers.

JULY

July 3: Shortstop Jamey Carroll’s two-run single capped a three-run bottom of the ninth inning that gave the Senators a 9-8 win over Reading. Jose Fernandez and Michael Barrett clubbed back-to-back homers in the fifth inning.

July 12: Fernandez’s tenth-inning RBI double beat Akron 5-4 on July 12. The hit capped an eight-game stretch in which Fernandez hit .385 (10-26) with three doubles and three homers.

July 14: Chris Stowers’ RBI double in the sixth inning provided the only run of the game in a 1-0 blanking over Trenton. Keith Evans hurled seven scoreless innings (5 H, 2 BB, 3 SO) for the win.

July 24: Fernando Seguignol homered twice (2-4, 3 RBI) on in a 7-6 win against Akron. He belted another dinger the next night against the Aeros, then went deep again July 28 & 29 against Norwich to boost his league-leading totals to 24 homers and a .604 slugging percentage.

AUGUST

August 3: Peter Bergeron and Jon Tucker came over from San Antonio after the Dodgers packaged the duo as part of the trade package for Carlos Perez and Mark Grudzielanek. Bergeron went 4-for-12 and Tucker 2-for-10 in their first three games.

August 6-8: Infielder Geoff Blum hit home runs in three consecutive games against New Haven and Reading (6-9, 5 RBI).

August 13: The Senators had just two hits in the first five innings before putting together 11 runs and seven hits in the sixth inning to defeat Trenton 11-6 on August 13. Chris Stowers had two singles in the inning while Jhonny Caravajal and Tucker had three-run doubles.

August 17: Blum clubbed a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning off one of the minors’ top firemen, Brent Stentz, to beat New Britain 6-4 in the second game of a twinbill. Barrett scored ahead of Blum’s blast to cross the plate in his 12th consecutive game.

August 26: Michael Barrett hit a pair of home runs, a double and a single, scored three runs and drove in a pair in a 6-3 win at Bowie. The Senators scored three unearned runs in the top of the ninth inning to pull out the victory. Barrett, who took over the league lead in batting (.326), has batted .413 (38-92) in August while playing mostly at the hot corner. As a third baseman this season, the 21-year-old is batting .384 in 99 at-bats. He had a 17-game hitting streak snapped August 25 against Bowie.

SEPTEMBER

September 6: Chris Stowers started two rallies in the afternoon with a double and a homer that helped Harrisburg beat the Portland Sea Dogs 7-1. Hours later as Trenton lost 14-4, the Senators clinched the final playoff spot in the Eastern League’s Southern Division.

September 9: Using early home runs by Stowers and Andy Tracy, as well as five workmanlike innings from starter Scott Forster, the Senators built a quick lead 9-0 lead and held off a couple of late Akron rallies to take Game 1 of the semifinals, 9-5.

September 11: Four more hits by Stowers helped the Senators rally past the Aeros 7-4 to take a 2-1 series lead. “I can’t explain it,” Stowers said of batting .339 against Akron during the regular season and .259 against the rest of the league. “Of course, I did go 3-for-50 against Bowie.”

September 12: A timely three-run homer in the second inning by Carlos Adolfo and solid pitching from Jeremy Powell and Tommy Phelps propelled the Senators to a 6-3 win eliminating the vaunted Aeros (including Major League All-Star Jim Thome on a rehab assigment) in four games of the Eastern League’s best-of-five Southern Division finals.

September 15: Chris Schwab had only been a Senator since the final weekend of the Eastern League’s regular season.  But the newcomer came through in the clutch as his RBI double fueled a three-run sixth inning that sparked a 5-2 victory over New Britain in Game 2 of the EL finals at RiverSide Stadium.

September 16: The Senators jumped out to a two-run first inning and starter Scott Mitchell and reliever Phelps moved Harrisburg to within one game of the championship with a 3-2 win.

September 17: Nine innings wasn’t enough, but Carlos Adolfo and Guillermo Mota made sure ten frames was. Adolfo’s two-run double lifted the Senators over New Britain 6-4 in Game 4 of the Eastern League finals and Mota nailed down the win recording the final three outs.

98

AWARDS & ACCOLADES

  • The Senators became only the second team in the Eastern League’s 76 seasons to win three straight playoff titles.
  • Jose Fernandez and Michael Barrett were among the 12 players selected to the season-ending Eastern League all-star team.
  • Outfielder Chris Stowers reached 100 consecutive games without an error before his streak ended on August 29.
  • Guillermo Mota named the playoff MVP after allowing only three hits in seven scoreless innings.

Quotables

“It’s the end of the road. Everything we’ve worked for is finished. This puts a dot on the i…When you work hard like this, this is what’s supposed to happen.” – – manager Rick Sweet on winning championship

“We hit a road series in Binghamton and it seemed that things went down hill after that. We were playing so well and then I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We lost our focus. We were a young team and teams made a lot of adjustments. The all-star break is a time for moves and some guys may have been thinking about that.” – – Michael Barrett on 5-23 June record

“You always think that burn of champagne in the eye hurts, but it’s nothing. Good guys always finish on top, right?” – – shortstop Geoff Blum

“I think the biggest boost we had was when we got (Jon) Tucker and (Peter) Bergeron. We knew that they were good players and we also knew that they were going to come in and help us win. It seemed like we had a different attitude. We were a team. Then (Geoff) Blum and Andy Tracy gave us an air of confidence. We knew that this was going to be the team and we were all going to stay there. It was great for chemistry.” – – Barrett on the late season roster

“When you taste this once, you want to taste it again and again. People who have never won never know this feeling.” – – manager Rick Sweet on winning championship

“They turned the trophy over to me [during the clubhouse celebration]. I took it to the bus, wiped it off and put it on the dashboard for the whole way back.” – – bus driver Art Mattingly

Highlight of the Year

 

 

Kevin Keyes’ grand slam puts exclamation mark on eight-run inning (April 15)

Chris Bostick hits walk-off homer to top Yard Goats (May 3)

Cutter Dykstra delivers a bases loaded, pinch-hit triple to empty the bases (May 9)

Nick Rickles’ blast sends the Senators into All-Star break winners (July 10)

Jose Marmolejos completes magical comeback on the final day of the season (September 5)

The Eastern League Roundtripper: September 19

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  • Congratulations to the Akron Rubber Ducks who claimed their second Eastern League championship in the last five years with a three-game sweep of the Trenton Thunder.
  • After eight seasons as the Altoona Curve’s General Manager, Rob Egan is leaving for the same position with the Charlotte Knights, Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.
  • Dusty Wathan will take the reins at Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2017 ending his five-year run in Reading that saw the 43-year-old become the winningest manager in team history.
  • More good news for the RubberDucks as the Cleveland Indians renewed their Player Development Contract with Akron through the 2020 season. That means every Eastern League team will remain with the same affiliation for at least the next two years.
  • The Hartford stadium saga continues as a report revealed several issues with Dunkin’ Donuts Park, including structural problems, water damage, and errors in certain installations. The Yard Goats are scheduled to play their first home game in 2017 on Thursday, April 13.

Senators Dance-Off!!

On the last day of the 2016 season, a trio of Senators decided to challenge “Harrisburg’s first… and best all-male dance team” to a dance-off. Greg Ross, Tyler Mapes, and Nick Rickles showed everyone their sweet, sweet dance moves.

Plays of the Month: August/September

Harrisburg came up just short of the 2016 postseason, but in the process the Senators gave the fans an exciting last month of the season. Let’s take a look back at some of the best plays of the month. As always the choices were tough, but somebody had to make them. Here are the Top 5:

5. August 5 vs. Trenton: Kieboom’s great baserunning and Stevenson’s big blow

The Senators began a four-run rally with a leadoff walk by Spencer Kieboom. The catcher moved up to third with heads up baserunning on a flare into shallow right from Adrian Sanchez. “That just shows you if you are thinking first-to-third and you’re smart about it you can make it. To me that was the biggest play of the game,” manager Matt LeCroy said. Rafael Bautista followed with a chopper off home plate that he beat out for a single and scored Kieboom for the Senators’ first run. Andrew Stevenson delivered the big blow in the inning with a triple down the right field line to score two. The speedy outfielder scored on a sacrifice fly from Isaac Ballou to give the Senators a four-run lead they would never relinquish.

4. August 24 vs. Altoona: Keyes delivers walk-off

Down to their last out, the Harrisburg Senators rallied off Altoona closer Montana DuRapau for a stunning 4-3 victory that marked the first time in nearly a month that Harrisburg won back-to-back games. Kevin Keyes delivered the game-winning RBI with a single up the middle that scored Andrew Stevenson from third base. Stevenson had previously singled home Shawn Pleffner in the inning to tie the score and set up the late game heroics.

3. August 10 vs. Altoona: Great first impression for Fedde

Erick Fedde pitched seven solid innings to lead the Harrisburg Senators to a 5-2 win over the Altoona Curve in his Double-A debut. The Nationals’ 2014 first-round pick retired the side in order only one time, but the Curve touched Fedde for a lone two-out run in the seventh inning.

2. September 2 vs. Hartford: 13 innings is just enough for Bautista

Rafael Bautista delivered the bases-loaded single in the 13th inning to give the Harrisburg Senators a stirring 4-3 victory over the Hartford Yard Goats and keep their playoff hopes alive. In the deciding frame, Harrisburg rallied on a couple of walks and a sacrifice bunt fielder’s choice. That set the stage for Bautista who ripped a single up the middle, through the drawn-in infield to score Stephen Perez from third base for the win.

1. September 5 vs. Hartford: Marmolejos provides a little bit of magic left on final day

Despite being eliminated about an hour before, the Harrisburg Senators had one last piece of magic left in them as they scored three runs on six consecutive singles for a 5-4 walk-off win over the Yard Goats on the final day of the regular season. The win marked the 76th victory of the season as the Senators became the first Eastern League team since 2002 to miss the playoffs with that win total. In the ninth inning, the Senators loaded the bases off Hartford closer Jerry Vasto as Nick Rickles, Adrian Sanchez, and Khayyan Norfork each singled. Pinch-hitter Isaac Ballou evened the score at 4-4 with a single to right that scored Rickles and Sanchez. Two more singles, the last one by Jose Marmolejos, proved to be the difference as Ballou coasted home on the first baseman’s line drive.

The Island Chronicles Podcast, Post-Season Episode 1

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Terry Byrom and Mick Reinhard give a postmortem on the 2016 season including the exciting comeback victory on the final day of the season, transactions and how that affected the roster, 76 wins not enough this year, playing a full-season schedule, players who we think improved their standing in baseball, and a look ahead to the 2017 roster on the latest edition of The Island Chronicles Podcast.

Rafael Bautista named Eastern League Player of the Week

Bautista Rafael_2016_05_01 - 5595 (Will Bentzel)

The Eastern League announced today that Harrisburg Senators’ outfielder Rafael Baustista has been named the Eastern League Player of the Week for the week of August 29th – September 5th. Bautista became the second Senators’ position player to win the award this season after Neftali Soto took home the honors on May 16.

The 23-year old batted .475 (19-for-40) with one double, two triples, nine RBIs, seven runs scored, six stolen bases, four walks and a .600 slugging percentage in nine games for the Senators last week. Bautista, who is a native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, reached base at least once and scored or drove in at least one run in all nine games he played in last week. He had multiple hits in seven games, including a pair of four hit performances on September 3rd and September 5th. The 6’2″, 165 lb. slugger led all Eastern League players in batting average (.475), hits (19) and on-base percentage (.523) and tied for the league lead in total bases (24), triples (6) and stolen bases (6) last week. He also finished ranked among the weekly league leaders in runs scored (7-tied 2nd), RBIs (9-5th) and OPS (1.123-6th). Rafael, who hit .282 (153-for-543) with 77 runs scored and a league-high 56 stolen bases in 136 games while making his Double-A debut with the Senators this season, was signed by the Washington Nationals as a non-drafted free agent on January 9, 2012.

A Little Bit of Magic Left in 5-4 Walk-Off Win

Altoona’s Extra-Inning Victory Leaves Playoffs Out of Reach

Video Highlights

In a game rendered meaningless to the playoff picture by the outcome 220 miles south in Richmond, the Harrisburg Senators had one last piece of magic left in them as they scored three runs for a 5-4 walk-off win over the Hartford Yard Goats in front of 4,369 fans at FNB Field. Harrisburg (76-66) became the first Eastern League team since 2002 to miss the playoffs with at least 76 wins.

In the ninth inning, the Senators loaded the bases off Hartford closer Jerry Vasto as Nick Rickles, Adrian Sanchez, and Khayyan Norfork each singled. Pinch-hitter Isaac Ballou evened the score at 4-4 with a single to right that scored Rickles and Sanchez. Two more singles, the last one by Jose Marmolejos, proved to be the difference as Ballou coasted home on the first baseman’s line drive.

“For them to come back and do what they did in the ninth is just a testament to the kids. They’re just a bunch of grinders, ” manager Matt LeCroy said. “They bought into what we were trying to do and I can’t tell you how proud I am of them and the coaches that worked with them. That made it fun. Even though we came up short, you can’t deny what we accomplished.”

The Yard Goats got to Harrisburg starter J.D. Martin in the first inning as they used a couple of flares and stolen bases to put up an early two-spot. But Martin, called up earlier in the day from Potomac, settled down and knuckled his way through an efficient eight innings while allowing four runs on seven hits (all singles) and two walks.

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Harrisburg chipped away at the lead, scoring single runs in the fifth and seventh frames, but were unable to draw closer until the final inning that decided the game.

Rafael Bautista led the offense going 4-for-5 with two runs batted in, while Marmolejos and Sanchez chipped in with three hits apiece in the wining effort.

Greg Ross picked up the win, his fifth of the season, with a scoreless inning of relief.

“For the young kids that will be back next year, I think that experience the last couple of months of the season will help them to come in and be more of a leader,” LeCroy said. “At the end of the year, you look at the stats and they’re good. I think that’s because they bought into playing as a team instead of as an individual. Look at Bautista finishing at .282. I wasn’t expecting that.”

The Senators kick off the 2017 campaign on Opening Night, Thursday April 6th at 7:00 p.m. against the Altoona Curve at FNB Field. Season ticket packages can be purchased in person at the Senators’ box office or online at senatorsbaseball.com.

Game 142 vs. Hartford: Lineups and Notes

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Game Notes

  • Pitching Matchups:
  • J.D. Martin starts for the Senators today. The 33-year-old was signed by the Nationals to a minor league contract on 6/9/2016. He was originally selected by the Cleveland Indians as a compensation pick at the end of the first round in 2001. He made his major league debut on 7/20/2009 with the Washington Nationals. He pitched in 24 games, all starts, in 2009 and 2010 with the Nationals. He began this season with Lancaster in the Atlantic League where he went 1-2 with a 9.76 ERA.
  • Sam Howard is on the hill for the Yard Goats today. The 23-year-old was selected by the Rockies in the third round of the 2014 draft out of Georgia Southern. The #21 ranked prospect in the Rockies organization according to mlb.com is 9-9 this year with a 3.47 ERA between Modesto and Hartford. He was a Mid-Season All-Star for the California League. Howard was promoted to Hartford on June 9. He’s made four quality starts for Hartford including his last two outings. His last time out he tossed six shutout innings against Trenton. He was originally selected in the 48thround of the 2011 draft by the Cubs out of high school but didn’t sign.
  • The Senators came out strong in another must-win game to top the Yard Goats 6-3.
  • With Akron’s win last night, they have clinched a spot in the 2016 playoffs. If Altoona wins today, they clinch the wild card spot. If Altoona wins, and Akron loses, then Altoona wins the division. If Altoona loses, then Akron clinches the division. As for the Senators, Altoona must lose their game (12:05pm at Richmond) and the Senators must win today for the Senators to qualify forthe playoffs. If that scenario happens, the Senators would finish second and host games one and two of the Western Division playoffs Wednesday and Thursday.

Follow Along

 

Senators Use Strong Start to Top Yard Goats 6-3

Postseason Hopes Remain Intact

Video Highlights

With their season on the line, the Harrisburg Senators came out of the gate early to best the Hartford Yard Goats, 6-3, in front of 4,399 fans at FNB Field. The Senators now need Akron or Altoona to lose in games later tonight to force the post-season picture to shift to the last day of the regular season.

“We met with them before the game and our staff told them that we asked them to buy into something and they all did,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “I think we proved a lot of people wrong and overachieved. We just told them we were proud of them. They put themselves in a situation to play for something in the end.”

“I know people that played a long time, but never got that feeling. So enjoy it.”

Harrisburg (75-66) broke out the bats early and often as they scored runs in the first four innings of the game. Rafael Bautista led off the game with a triple, scored on a single from Andrew Stevenson, who in turn raced home on a Jose Marmolejos double. The Yard Goats responded with a run off Harrisburg starter Phillips Valdez, but the Senators took advantage of two Hartford errors on their way to answer with a run of their own.

Two more triples, off the bats of Isaac Ballou and Wilmer Difo, were the centerpieces of the next two innings as the Senators increased their lead to 6-2.

Valdez (6-4) was solid as the right-hander held the Yard Goats at arm’s length for seven innings. Hartford scored three runs, all the product of lead-off base hits, off Valdez as he walked two and struck out six in his outing.

Nick Lee worked two scoreless innings for the Senators on Friday night (Will Bentzel / MiLB)

Nick Lee struck out lefties Dillon Thomas and Ryan McMahon before turning over the game to Mitch Lively and Robert Benincasa (Will Bentzel / MiLB)

Nick Lee, Mitch Lively, and Robert Benincasa secured the victory with two combined shutout innings.

“He’s made some big strides down the stretch,” LeCroy said of Lee. “A lot of them have. But he’s got a gift. He can spin it and he can get lefties. But you have to throw it over and I think he’s gotten a little more comfortable and he’s got to get more consistent.”

The Senators’ final game of the regular season is slated for Monday afternoon at FNB Field against the Hartford Yard Goats. The Senators will be holding their first ever Diaper Derby baby race with the finals in the middle of the field during the sixth inning. The game can be heard on Fox Sports 1460 AM, on the internet at senatorsbaseball.com, or through the TuneIn and iHeart Radio apps with The Matt LeCroy Show beginning the radio broadcast at 1:15 p.m.