Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Stoner Is Displaying His Versatility Afield

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Stoner Is Displaying His Versatility Afield

Article excerpt

It's been a season of difficulties for the Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League.

Through 35 games, the Wild Things had a 14-21 record and were residing in sixth place in the league's seven-team East Division. The team's earned run average was 4.13, which put them in 12th place in the 14-team league.

Similar to the Pittsburgh Pirates, hitting also has been a concern as the team batting average was .221 through Tuesday.

That, however, is an improvement. The team has more than doubled its hit total in the past 20 games. Through 14 games, the team had fewer than 100 hits. Things have changed.

Through Tuesday night, the team had recorded 248 hits, raising the batting average by nearly 30 points and trailed 13th-place Normal (.228) by seven percentage points.

The team, though, has a claim that few teams can tout. In a 12-7 victory against the visiting Gateway Grizzlies on May 23, second baseman Shain Stoner and since-released catcher Joel Carranza became the first players in Wild Things' history to hit grand slams in the same game.

Stoner -- who is hitting .205 with 2 home runs and 17 RBIs -- hit his grand slam in the bottom of the second inning to give the Wild Things a 6-2 lead. Five innings later and with his team leading 7- 4, Carranza -- released after appearing in 13 games with a .138 batting average -- hit an 0-1 curveball for his grand slam to put the game out of reach.

"I didn't realize it [at the time], but I talked to a few people after the game and they said we set a record or made some history," said Stoner, a Santee, Calif., native. "It's good to be part of it and have that memory. The connection with Joel will always be there."

Stoner believes hitters must have the same short memory that pitchers eventually develop.

"You can have a bad at-bat, and if you don't wash it out of your head, it carries through to your defense and you're not ready defensively. If you can develop that good head on your shoulders and a short memory, you should be a successful hitter."

There are some reasons for optimism. The Wild Things' 13-5 victory against Joliet (Ill.) that closed out a road trip earlier this month also snapped a seven-game losing streak. …

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