Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Potomac Nationals 8 at Winston-Salem Dash 2 (Carolina League) - July 12, 2015


After visiting two great ballyards in Greensboro and Durham, I had high hopes for BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem, home of the Carolina League's Dash. The park looks great from the highway, but I found it lacking in a few aspects once I approached. Signage to the parking lot was a bit inaccurate and I ended up in a ramshackle gravel lot on the other side of street. Given the condition of other cars parked there, many of which were missing bumpers, headlights, etc., I thought that Dash fans were very poor drivers. Only when I walked to the park did I see the actual, paved lots, but it wasn't worth moving the car at this point. As it turns out, those lots cost $6, while the junk lot was free. Also free is the downtown shuttle that runs from Thursday-Saturday should you be staying in the city. Walking back to the ballpark gave me the chance to take a picture from the top of the hill, a unique vantage point.



The stadium opened in 2010 and received accolades from Ballparks.com that year, but I found it to be quite average, particularly when compared to the other two parks I had seen on this trip. The entrance to the park is through the center field gates, where the ticket windows are located. There are separate lines for ticket purchase and will call that start from the top of the stairs, so make sure to get in the right one. Just in front of the main gate is a statue of three kids with gloves extended in anticipation of a home run ball.



Tickets are quite expensive for Class A Advanced ball, with the top price for infield box seats at $17 on game day. The cheapest option is the lawn seat at $9. Fortunately, fans were not in abundance this night and so you could sit where you wanted, thus the lawn seat is the recommended strategy.



Programs are free and handed out at the gate. From there you can take a walk to the seating bowl where there are several concession stands selling your usual variety of ballpark bites. This night happened to be dollar dog and soda night, so there was no need to try anything else. The hot dogs were quite good so I had three of those to go with my two Pepsi's, a top-notch ballpark dinner.



There aren't a lot of amenities here. The Foothills Brew Pen behind the left field fence is where you go if you want to sit at a table and have a beer or two; the picnic terrace in the right field corner is for group parties, while a kids zone is behind the scoreboard beyond centerfield. In other words, a typical minor league ballpark. Nothing wrong with that, with free parking and cheap eats, I paid only $14 for an evening of entertainment, so why I am complaining?



The game was scheduled to start at 5 and I had left Durham at 3:15 to get here in time. But at 5:05, they announced that the game was being delayed due to "impending inclement weather". The tarp was rolled out and the game day crew tried to entertain the fans with some silly dancing and other promotions. Meanwhile, that impending inclement weather never impended. After about 20 minutes, the grounds crew removed the tarp and the players began to warm up. The game eventually started at 6:05, meaning that I could have seen the whole game in Durham (won by Gwinnett 3-1 on an 11th inning homer). I was pretty annoyed at this turn of events, although it was no fault of the home team. Once the game started though, my frustration fizzled and I enjoyed myself as the teams played into the evening.



The Game



A couple of prospects took the mound: Reynaldo Lopez (above, Baseball America's #49 overall prospect and Washington's #5) for visiting Potomac and Brandon Brennan (below, 4th round, 2012, and the White Sox #20 prospect).



Potomac got on the board first when Khayvan Norfork (23rd, 2011, throwing below) singled home Spencer Kieboom (5th, 2012, Washington's #19 prospect). Meanwhile, Lopez scattered two hits over 5 innings but allowed a run in the 6th when Trey Michalczewski (7th, 2013, Chisox #7 prospect, sliding below) doubled to score Adam Engel (19th, 2013, #17 prospect).



Lopez was saved from the no-decision though, when Potomac notched four runs in the top of the 7th, with three of those unearned after Michalczewski threw low to first on a play that should have ended the inning. Stephen Perez followed with a 2-run double to make it 5-1.



Potomac added another in the 8th, and in the 9th, Michael Ynoa came in for Winston-Salem. Ynoa, from the Dominican Republic, was signed to a $4.25 million contract with Oakland back in 2008 as a 16-year old. He was considered a top prospect but injuries have kept him from achieving his promise. and Oakland finally gave up, trading him to Chicago as part of the Jeff Samardzija deal last year. Ynoa got two quick outs but then yielded a single and two doubles leading to 2 more Potomac runs before finally getting out of the inning. The Dash added a run in the bottom of the ninth to make the final 8-2 in a game that lasted 2:52, rather long for what transpired.



Notes

This was my sixth Carolina League park, with two left (Salem and Carolina). The league is considered Class A Advanced, along with the Florida State League and California League, in both of which I have seen all ballparks. So once I make a trip to Salem and Zebulon, I will have completed the entire level. Hoping to get this done in August.

Next Up

I'll be in Baltimore on the weekend to see the Gold Cup quarterfinals between the USA and Cuba as well as Jamaica and Haiti. Then I'll head to Salisbury, MD on Sunday to check out the Delmarva Shorebirds as I slowly try to complete all 160 minor league ballparks. Check back next week for a recap of those events.

Best,

Sean


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