Tigers to take on Spikes

After being swept on the road by the Williamsport Crosscutters, the Connecticut Tigers will return home to Dodd Stadium for a three-game series against the State College Spikes, an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Spikes enter the series two and a half games behind the Jamestown Jammers in the Pinckney Division with a 13-12 record.  The Tigers own an identical 13-12 record, but find themselves with a steeper hill to climb, as they are five games behind the Vermont Lake Monsters in the Stedler Division.

The Spikes’ second baseman is South African-born Gift Ngoepe, who might have a more interesting background than any player in Minor League Baseball.

Ngoepe grew up in a baseball clubhouse.  Literally.  His mother cooked and cleaned in the clubhouse of a South African club team in exchange for the ability to call the clubhouse home.  Ngoepe’s story was chronicled last summer by Sports Illustrated’s Gary Smith.

The Spikes also boast an impressive group of young pitchers.  Zack Von Rosenberg, Brooks Pounders, Zack Dodson, Trent Stevenson and Colton Cain were all drafted by the Pirates out of high school in 2009.

In an interview conducted in May, Wilbur Miller told Connecticut Tiger Den that Von Rosenberg had good command of three pitches including a fastball, curveball and changeup.  His fastball reportedly sat 88-91 mph when he was drafted, but Miller said he was only throwing 83-88 mph when he saw him in March.

Miller said Cain and Stevenson have to most upside among the other pitchers.  “They’ve shown the most potential velocity if they can develop their mechanics and if Stevenson, who’s extremely thin, fills out,” Miller said.  “Pounders is a finesse guy. Dodson throws in the low 90s with a very good curve.”

The Tigers/Spikes series kicks off on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.  Brennan Smith (0-0, 0.64) is expected to start on the mound for the Tigers.  He will be opposed by Von Rosenberg (0-4, 5.57) of the Spikes.

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