In the same manner as the 2011 team did, the Crawdads milled about in left field, waiting to find out if they had indeed clinched a first-half division title and a playoff spot in September.
When the final out in Charleston, WV sealed the Power’s elimination, the celebratory water coolers were spilled and the raucous, rowdy party was on.
It was cool to see these toughened, young men melt into excited boys again, delirious at what they had accomplished as a group… and oh, how they celebrated as a group. From the two-year vets, such as Wiles and Beras and Mendez and Pinto – who couldn’t believe he finally homered with Hickory – to the “young pups” Ortiz, and Jurado, and Morgan, to the steady Trevino and Tendler and Martin, to Buckel – who did this same celebration in 2011 – to the newcomers, Arroyo, Shoulders, Filomeno… they all reveled in the spoils of victory.
Whether in English or Spanish, on this field, their words shared a common meaning: champions.
They proudly smiled for the cameras, arms extended with index fingers pointed to the sky to have their baseball moment frozen in time and recorded for a lifetime.
They patiently tried to answer my questions, but mostly they spit out words of their happiness… and doused the interviewee.
Many congratulations to the 2015 Crawdads on a brilliant first half. Here is some of what they had to say.
About the division-clinching game:
It’s a credit to these guys. They just find ways to win. It’s not necessarily the two guys that we would expect to hit home runs right now. Jairo, a single with two outs and Shoulders gets a home run. J-Mo gets a double with two outs; Pinto got him with a home run. Give credit to the guys, they find ways to win.
Favorite memory of the first half:
Just watching the way that the guys played and the way they cheer for each other. You look into the other dugout and you see guys sitting down. You look at ours and guys are cheering for each other and staying on the rail. Just seeing guys who want to win and pull for each other.
About his start:
My mentality today was to basically go out and compete like I always do and give it my all. I’ve got eight, nine guys behind me protecting me. Attack the zone and they’ll make a play for you. That’s the way it was tonight. I threw the ball over the zone and I felt like everything was working for me.
About his comfort level in the first two innings:
The first and second innings were the hardest ones to get through. It was hot and humid, but I had to go out there and pitch. To become a good pitcher, you’ve got to go through everything. You go through the hot. You go through the cold. You have bad outings. On days you have bad, it’s how you handle it. It’s just pitching, basically putting it altogether and going out there and competing and giving it all you have. If they hit you, it happens. it’s a part of baseball.
About winning the first-half division title:
I’m happy today. I play good. I’m part of the playoffs. We’ll get back at it tomorrow and *&^@-ing win it (Ironically, he did with a homer in the 10th Tuesday night.).
About his third-inning homer:
I’d never hit a home run with Hickory. My team kept saying to me, “you need a La Bamba; you need a home run. You don’t have one.” I said, “ok, take it easy, take it easy, my brothers.” Today, home run, I’m happy.
About the ability for a different player to make a play to win a game each night:
It’s awesome We did this in Spokane last year when we won the first half and it’s cool to do it again and experience it again.
About the team’s success compared to winning last year in Spokane:
We all have another year under our belt of pro ball, so we’ve all improved and gotten better each day. It’s just a lot of fun to do it with these guys.
About the celebration:
This is awesome, but we’re not done yet, though. We’re not even close. We’ve got a whole other half and then we’ve got the whole post season. This is a really good team with a group of really good guys. The pitching staff and hitters, we’re all coming back together.
About his double in the third inning prior to Pinto’s homer
I was just looking for a good pitch to hit. Luckily he gave me one and I was able to square it up, luckily. I’m just happy that we clinched, but we’re not done yet. We’ve got a full half to go, but we’re excited about where we’re at right now.
About the second half:
Hopefully, we can keep going on and keep staying positive we’ll be successful. I’m happy to be here and hopefully we can finish it off.
About his fourth-inning homer:
At my first at bat, he gave me a first-pitch fastball, so I went up there ready for it. I might’ve been a little bit late, but I still got good wood on it. I did what I wanted to do; I was trying to go the other way with the fastball and hit it into the gap. Luckily I got it up over the fence and got it out.
About coming to the Rangers organization from the Cubs:
At the beginning, I was a little worried, being that it was my first time going to this organization. But this is a great group of guys. When I walked into spring training, they all welcomed me with open hands and open mouths; they were all talking to me and helping me get used to everything. So, when I came here, I knew a bunch of guys already, so it was easy for me to get acclimated.