Senators 5, SeaWolves 1
Two weeks ago, the Senators lost a Saturday night game at Metro Bank Park to the SeaWolves, 9-5. The defeat at the hands of their division rival slipped the Senators to 1.5 games behind Erie, which was their lowest place in the standings since June 11th.
At the time, my frustration reached a boiling point. They were struggling offensively and going down without so much as a fight every game. It seemed to me that this team needed to find its heart and a leader to right the ship.
Little did I know, but that night was his first game back from the disabled list.
Steven Souza returned to his position in rightfield and third in the batting order on that Saturday night for the first time since July 26th. Souza’s presence in the lineup and the dugout was exactly what this team needed. He brought an energy and a spark that this club had been badly missing.
This team has come together over the last two weeks and a big part of that is Souza’s camaraderie and support. On the night the Senators clinched a playoff spot, it was a champagne-drenched Souza who stood in the midst of his teammates on a folding chair and addressed the players.
In the 15 games since his return, the Senators have gone 11-4 and scored an average of 5.06 runs per game. During that span, Souza has posted a slash line of .421/.471/.667 with 10 runs scored, 17 driven in, and nine stolen bases.
This Saturday night when the Senators needed a knockout blow in their Division Series with the SeaWolves, Souza was the guy that put the team on his back and delivered it. From the first pitch he saw, which he rifled into the left-centerfield gap for an RBI double, Souza played like a man with a singular focus and mission. Not a single ball that left his bat on the night was anything less than squared up and drilled. His 4-for-4 night at the plate with three doubles, two RBIs, and two runs scored will go down as one of the great playoff performances in Senators’ history.
Amidst the clebration in the clubhouse, Souza reflected on his leadership role with the team, “It’s an honor. I’m not really the vocal type and I try and lead by example. But I knew that my role coming back in here was to try and get something going. If that meant I went 0-for-40 but I got something going as far energy-wise that’s what I was going to do. It just turned out that way. I just thank God I had the opportunity to come back and have the success that I did. It was a blessing.”
But like most leaders, he was also quick to share the praise for his teammates as he singled out those guys who surround him in the lineup, “It’s been great to have Billy and Goody on in front of me and having Bloxom behind me has been awesome.”
To paraphrase The Dark Knight, Souza is both the hero the Senators deserved and the one they needed.
• Manager Matt LeCroy on the championship berth – – “Just proud of the team and the effort they’ve been giving all year. To be able to play for a championship for the Eastern League, for Harrisburg, for the Nationals I’m so excited for them. This time of year when guys are ready to go home and these guys are chomping at the bit to come to the yard and compete and try to win a title.”
• Harrisburg will travel to Trenton on Tuesday and Wednesday for Games 1 and 2 starting at 7:05. They will return to Metro Bank Park to host the Thunder on Thursday, Friday (if necessary), and Saturday (if necessary).