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Tromp, Sandberg drive in 8 runs

June 17, 2014 - Mitch Rupert
Cord Sandberg wasn't looking to hit a home run. Not on a 2-2 pitch with two outs. He was just looking to put a good swing on it.

The Williamsport right fielder definitely did that, crushing a belt-high fastball over the right-center field fence for a second-inning three-run home run which was the start of an offensive outburst Tuesday night. Jiandido Tromp homered twice and drove in three runs, Sandberg homered and tripled and drove in five runs as the Crosscutters beat Jamestown in the first of a three-game series, 12-5 at Bowman Field.

All nine Williamsport hits last night went for extra bases. Tromp became the first Crosscutter to homer twice in a game since Samuel Hiciano hit two home runs and drove in eight runs on Aug. 17 last year.

Sandberg and Tromp, the 1-2 hitters in the Williamsport lineup, combined for five of Williamsport's hits, drove in eight runs, and scored four more.

“I was relaxed. I had a good (batting practice) and I knew I was going to have a good game,” said Tromp, who now has six home runs in three years in the Phillies system. “I was finding a good pitch to hit and I put a good swing on it. I had three good hits and it's what I was looking for.”

“They were even making hard outs,” Cutters manager Shawn Williams said. “They both do a little bit of everything. I just love them up there at the top of the lineup because of all the things they can do.”

Sandberg, a 19-year old third-round draft pick in 2013, has been exactly what Williams had been hoping to get out of a leadoff hitter. Tuesday was his fourth two-hit game in the first five games of the season. He also extended his hitting streak to six games, dating back to last year.

Sandberg's .409 batting average is fifth-best in the New York-Penn League, and his nine hits are the second-most in the league behind only Jamestown's Carl Anderson's 10.

Sandberg's home run last night came after the bottom of the second inning was extended thanks to a fielding error by Jammers second baseman Erik Lunde on a hot shot ground ball by Deivi Grullon. After Emmanuel Marrero walked in his professional debut, Sandberg squared up a fastball and crushed it over the wall at spacious Bowman Field for his first home run of the year.

“In BP I've been trying to focus on line drives. If I hit a home run, it's by accident, especially on a 2-2 count,” the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Sandberg said. “But if it's coming in at 90 miles an hour and you square it up, it goes.”

“As he keeps playing and gets older, he's going to get stronger and eventually he's going to be driving some more balls,” Williams said. “He shows it in BP and we've seen it in extended. I just like his at-bats in general. Even when he doesn't get hits, he'll foul off a ton of pitches. I like him up there aggressive and doing what he's doing.”

Tromp was sent to Williamsport in early June after struggling to get consistent playing time in Lakewood with a roster stacked with high-ranking prospects. After getting Monday night off in the series finale against State College, the 2011 International Free Agent signee was more relaxed for last night's game.

After Sandberg homered, Jamestown pitcher Austin Coley got ahead 0-2 on Tromp before the right-hander worked the count full. He then hit a majestic blast which hit the road behind the left-field wall at Bowman Field for back-to-back homers. The home run capped a six-run inning for the Cutters and chased Coley from the game despite all six runs being unearned.

But Tromp's second homer, a one-out solo blast over the newly erected Susquehanna Bank Park sign, may have gone even farther than the first. Tromp has hit three home runs this year between two levels, the most of his career.

“He's put together. He's a strong kid,” Williams said. “I think there's some serious power in there. Those balls tonight, he hammered those.”

“I worked my ABs pretty good to get a good fastball to hit,” Tromp said. “I was seeing the ball pretty good. There's no rush to chase something. My first AB I popped up to center field, but it felt good. My second AB I was going to be a little more patient and get a good pitch to hit and that's what happened.”

The 12-run outburst gives Williamsport 23 runs in three games at Bowman Field in the early season against just five on the road. And it was more than enough to back the pitching of starter Mitch Gueller and the three relievers who followed him.

Gueller, who set the Crosscutters record for losses in a season with eight in 2013, battled through four strong innings, stranding seven runners on base. He wiggled out of a bases loaded, one-out jam in the first without allowing a run.

Although not crisp at times, he began to pound the strike zone once his offense went ahead 6-0. He finished with 69 pitches in four innings, with 35 for strikes. But after being handed a lead, he threw 29 pitches and 15 for strikes over his final two innings. He struck out three and allowed just two hits.

“He had more confidence tonight,” Tromp said. “We were up 6-0 and he was throwing with a lot of confidence.”

“Mitch defintiely stepped up when we needed him,” Sandberg said. “He got some big strikeouts and got out of jams without giving up a big inning. Mitch did a great job.”


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