BaseballNormal CornBelters fans seem to know the difference between when their favorite team is up to performing (as seen by their ability to stay in the chase for a Frontier League playoff spot their first two seasons); Being unable to compete (as witnessed last season); and returning to a more competitive form this season.

But the ‘Belters have been streaky, in both directions, this season, and although that has been the case, left-handed pitcher Jacob Liedka has enjoyed this season’s ride a little more than he did as a member of last year’s squad.

When pitcher Ryan Demmin was picked up by the Philadelphia Phillies for their minor league system earlier this month, Manager Brooks Carey slid the 25-year-old Liedka into the rotation, and he has proven effective in his starts since then. Since entering the rotation at that point, as of Tuesday, Liedka is 1-1 with a 3.60 earned run average.

“Jacob stepped into the starting rotation in place of Demmin and has had three great starts right out of the bullpen,” since then, Carey explained. “He has thrown the ball as well as anyone on the team.”

“Last year was rough,” Liedka said. “Anytime you’re losing games like that, it’s a grind. It just wears you down real quick. But this year has been completely different because we’ve been winning 9 or 10 games straight, and although we’ve also had losses of 9 or 10 games straight, it’s still a lot more fun to come to the ball park when you have a chance to win every day.”

Liedka said those winning streaks “have been a ton of fun. We were just playing with confidence every day and putting up a ton of runs. Our pitching staff was just unreal.”

CornbeltersThat streakiness, in one direction or another in terms of wins or losses is just something players live with in independent ball, Liedka said. “It’s a completely different team, almost, every year,” he said, explaining what it feels like to play on teams that experience it. “You really don’t know what to expect.

“But streaks are just part of the game,” the San Antonio, Texas native added. “We’ve just been working through it.”

Liedka’s goal for the remaining week of the regular season: “Finish strong and don’t coast, and just keep on trucking through it. If I do that, everything will take care of itself.”

The improvement in the win-loss column and its relationship to the number of folks coming through The Corn Crib’s turnstiles is something that hasn’t been lost on the players, Liedka said.

“I feel like the fans are just more into the game this year,” Liedka said. He added that even when family vacations might keep local folks away from the ball park, attendance has seemed to him to be up from what it was last season.

John-Luke And Sadie From “Duck Dynasty” Visit Corn Crib Sunday: The Florence Freedom will have visited The Corn Crib for the last time this season, ending a three-game series Thursday at 7p.m. The Windy City Thunderbolts will be in for three games, Friday through Sunday, Aug. 30-Sept. 1. Friday and Saturday games will be at 7p.m., and Sunday’s contest starts at 6p.m.

From John-Luke Robertson and Sadie Robertson, two of the young stars of the A&E Network hit “Duck Dynasty” will be on hand to sign autographs and meet fans on Sunday from 6:15p.m.-8p.m. The pair will throw out first pitches at 6p.m. The team gets Monday, Sept. 2, off for Labor Day before hosting the last three game series of the season against the Rockford Aviators Tuesday through Thursday, Sept. 3-5. The CornBelters will celebrate “Fan Appreciation Night” on Sept. 5.

Frontier LeagueWith The Clock Ticking….: As Carey put it to me when we spoke earlier this week, “Here’s where we are with clock ticking…”

“It would have been a lot easier for us if we could have gone to Traverse City and won a game or two,” the first-season CornBelters manager said, drawing back on the three straight losses his team suffered at the hands of the Beach Bums on the road. Those losses followed Normal’s setting a new team record win streak of six straight.

“Ideally, at this point in the season, we’d like to get to 49 wins for the season,” Carey said. Doing that would give Normal a 49-47 record for the year, and the best record the team has ever had since coming into existence in 2010. “To do that,” Carey said, “We’re going to have to go 7 and 2 on this home stand. It’s entirely possible we could do that with the way we play at home.”

Carey characterized the way the ‘Belters have swung the bats on the road for the last month as “horrendous. We haven’t given ourselves a chance to win many games on the road in the last month and that has put us in that position.”

He added closing the last home stand of the year with a 6-3 record would put the team at .500 for the year – someplace the team has never reached in the previous four years. In two years with the club, Hall Of Famer Hal Lanier racked up 90 wins; Chad Parker could only squeeze out 29 victories in his lone season here last year.

“We’re not satisfied with it, but a .500 record would be something to build on for next year,” Carey said. “Seven and two would be fantastic and I think we have a shot at it, but, we have to play well every night.”

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 27th, 2013 at 10:26 pm and is filed under Normal Cornbelters, The Normalite. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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