BELOIT - Meet the second half. Same as the first half.
The Beloit Snappers got a new lease on life as the Midwest League's second half began Thursday night. Unfortunately for the Snappers, they looked like much the same team that muddled through a last-place finish in the Western Division in the first half in an ugly 7-2 loss to Quad Cities.
Beloit's first three hitters of the game all reached with singles, resulting in a run and a 1-0 lead. The remaining nine innings yielded just two hit, and a ninth-inning run when the game had long been decided.
The Snappers drew a total of six walks, but were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base.
"When pitchers give you opportunities, you've got to jump on them," Snappers manager Lloyd Turner said. "You just can't let them off the hook, and we did that several times tonight."
The Beloit lead didn't last long, with Quad Cities scoring a run in the second and two more in the third to take the lead for good.
Snappers starter Reid Birlingmair was not effective, but at least gave the Snappers six innings of work as he dropped to 2-4 on the season. Birlingmair allowed eight hits and six runs, including a pair of home runs.
The opportunity to hit the reset button is there for the Snappers. However, Turner said the players have to take advantage of that for the opportunity to mean anything.
"Sometimes at the break, you'll see a lot of roster moves," Turner said. "But this year, we didn't have that. So it's up to the guys in the locker room to make the difference. If they are still struggling with their approaches at the plate, if they are still falling behind in the count on the mound, then that chance to restart doesn't give them anything.
"I'm telling them all the time to reach deep and to try to get better every single time they come out to the ballpark. That has to be their focus every day."
Snappers catcher Skyler Weber, who went 0-for-3 Thursday night, said the team was excited to forget about the rough first half. "We do look at it as a chance to start fresh," Weber said. "It's almost like getting traded to a new team. The individual stats carry over, but as a team nothing that we did in the first half matters. Minor league baseball isn't all about wins and losses, but at the same time we all want to make the playoffs. It's fun to win, and it sucks to lose. Hopefully we can take advantage of that."
The Snappers have their biggest weekend of the season on tap at Pohlman Field. Friday, the team is admitting all first responders to the ballpark for free, sponsored by Mercyhealth.
Saturday features one of the biggest group outings of the year, with a large contingent from Rock Energy flooding the ballpark, and a fireworks show to follow.
Sunday is Nickelodeon Day featuring Paw Patrol. Snappers general manager Jeff Gray said this is the team's marquee promotion of the year.
"Paw Patrol is one of the most popular kids shows out there," Gray said. "There are a lot of teams that try to get them to come out to the park, and we were fortunate enough to get them. I would just encourage folks to get their tickets in advance to avoid a line on game day."
Marshall the Fire Pup, one of the show's main characters, will be at the game, which begins at 2 p.m.