Crystal Lake “Takes Off” in May

Updated: November 19, 2017


Crystal Lake “Takes Off” in May
Updated: May 31, 2026 – 11:58PM CDT

By Howard Heskin, Staff Writer – Twitter @HowardHeskin1

May saw a change of fortunes for the Sandgnats who posted an 18-11 record only to be bested in their division by rival Duluth by one win to move within one game of the division lead. Duluth would also move into the division lead with its impressive May performance as well.

May started off with a series at home verse Fargo, with Fargo taking 2 of 3, but then the Sandgnats staying at home would take 4 in a row against Toyoma before being swept yet again by Bakersfield away. The Gnats then took a 3 game sweep with them at Reno on their way to 2 of 3 at Okinawa. Then, the Gnats came home to a 4 game split series with Aurora before taking 2 of 3 at home verses Palm Springs. The month would end with a surprising 3 game sweep of Shin Seiki before dropping 2 of 3 at Palm Springs to round out May.

Here’s May’s Hot and Not:

HOT: 26 year old starting catcher Tony Parker showed continued promise for a bright future putting up stats of .305/.396/.585/.981 including 6 home runs and 20 RBIs in 82 at bats.

NOT: 2B Jack Speed showed little much of anything coming off the bench with .178/.260/.200/.460 in 45 at bats.

HOT: SP Jim ‘Nitro’ MacCowan continued where he left off in April going 3-1 in 5 starts with a 1.70 ERA and 0.81 WHIP. He led the team with 31 strikeouts in May alone.

NOT: How did the overpaid SP Tatsui Kouno go 3-1 in May while posting an ERA of 5.81 and 1.38 WHIP. He did strike out 30 or was it the 39 runs scores in his 8 appearances?

Injuries: RF Jarrod ‘Merlin’ Ricks will begin his rehab stint in AAA Evansville this week and looks for a speedy return to the PEBA level club from a serious elbow injury. I was fortunate to catch up with Merlin again focusing on his rehab at the Gnats training center. “Man, all we did was focus on drinking a lot of Grape Gatorade like back in the day with my boy Nori (Norihide Yamamoto). That dude always knew how to keep in shape. Look at him 37 years old and still kickin’ it in Japan.”

I also was able to have a sit down with Gnats bench coach Jaime Barrón to discuss the mood in the club house for this up and down season so far. The 64 year old Barrón has seen it all during his career. “You know, I try to tell the guys about my days in Tempe and how patience pays off. I learned a lot by how it didn’t work out there and try to see what I can do to guide these guys here in Crystal Lake. It’s been a great 7 years. The guys are resilient, but I can’t say enough about the leadership of 2B Jim Klien. He’s the field general out there and exudes confidence. He’s taken Tony Parker under his wings and its been paying off.”

The Gnats look forward to a June with 11 games against Neo-Tokyo (8 away; 3 home); an away series at Fargo and home against Reno; Shin Seiki; Dulth and Kalamazoo at the end of the month and into July.

Don’t forget to buy your 4th of July fireworks game Gnic at Night performance by Gnate and the Gnaturals!