BELOIT - The pace was sluggish. The win was whipping across the field. The kids were screaming. A first-place team was in town.
Throw in a rain delay to begin the game, an 11:30 a.m. start and it was an altogether strange day at Pohlman Field.
Most importantly, however the Beloit Snappers battled to earn the series split by beating Kane County 7-6 Wednesday.
The victory brought the Snappers back to .500 at 19-19, two and a half games behind the Cougars.
The normally quick-working Snappers had to battle for three hours, 14 minutes, thanks in large measure to the seven walks the Beloit pitching staff allowed.
Snappers catcher Collin Theroux said he did what he could to remind his pitchers to work with a good pace.
"Something that we like to preach a lot is to get on the rubber quickly but once you get there, don't rush your actions," Theroux said. "I think that's where guys get mixed up a lot. When it works best is when they get the ball and get ready to pitch quicker. That's what makes hitters uncomfortable."
The game, one of a handful of weekday morning starts, was scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., but a 33-minute delay thanks to a pop-up shower disrupted the pre-game routine.
A normally nearly-empty Pohlman Field played host to an announced crowd of 1,774, most of them middle schoolers more interested in scarfing down concessions and barely avoiding an early arm injury at the speed pitch machine. Still, they were there. A strong, swirling breeze frequently had a batter stepping out of the box to wipe the sand from his eyes.
Theroux said getting a win over the Cougars meant a lot to the team.
"Just like they did today, Clinton is always a team that battles back," Theroux said. "They aren't bothered if they give up a few early runs. If we can put the foot on the pedal, that's big for us. We just need to do a better job of doing that more consistently."
The Snappers jumped all over Kane County starter Curtis Taylor, scoring four runs in the first inning. Kyle Nowlin delivered the big blow, a three-run home run to stake the Snappers to the early advantage.
Dakota Chalmers started for Beloit and was wildly effective, walking four in four innings but not giving up a run while striking out five. Lefty Ty Damron (2-4) picked up the win despite struggling. Damron allowed six runs on eight hits in 3 2-3 innings. Jesus Zambrano came on in relief of Damron with the tying run on first base and two outs in the eighth inning. Thanks to Theroux, he didn't have to record an out to get out of the jam.
Theroux picked off Marcus Wilson to end the threat and give Zambrano the opportunity to start the next inning clean.
"We were just wasting a fastball away there," Theroux said. "I was thinking about back-picking anyway. Then I saw that he took a false step towards second base and he was just kind of in no-mans land. I made the throw and it worked out."
• NOTES: The Snappers will head to Peoria for four games before returning home to take on Wisconsin beginning Monday.