Fans were reminded that fireworks were planned Friday following the 7:05 p.m. game between the Erie SeaWolves and Altoona at UPMC Park in Erie, Pennsylvania.
The show will follow an unscheduled fireworks burst that big-hitting Tigers prospects Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene crafted during Thursday’s doubleheader against Altoona at UPMC.
Torkelson went 7-for-7 in the two games, with three home runs, a double and three singles. One of the singles would have been a double had the SeaWolves not been up 12-1 and Torkelson not been in a charitable frame of mind.
Greene hit two home runs, one a grand slam, and a double in his two games, which Erie won by scores of 15-1 and 6-0.
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Their homers in the second game came during a back-to-back-to-back deluge, which included a third bomb by Ryan Kreidler, all against Altoona pitcher Jeffrey Passantino.
“That was interesting,” Erie manager Arnie Beyeler said during a Friday phone chat. “It was kind of fun to watch, especially when those guys went back-to-back-to-back (to begin Erie’s first inning). I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.”
Torkelson, of course, is no more familiar with the long ball than is Greene — or Kreidler. All have been crushing it at Erie in 2021: Torkelson and Greene have each hit 14 homers for the SeaWolves, while Kreidler sits at 15.
Thursday’s antics were part of a doubleheader necessitated by a Wednesday rainout. It meant Torkelson had to settle for seven at-bats in a pair of seven-inning games, with the shortened contests the only thing that seemed to have curtailed him.
“I definitely got good pitches to hit and took advantage of them,” Torkelson said Friday after his fusillade, which saw him launch a two-run blast to left-center in his first at-bat Thursday.
He followed with a pair of singles in Erie’s 10-run third, and then ripped a double to center in his last at-bat.
In the second game, Torkelson crushed a pitch beyond the center-field wall in the first. He followed with a line-single to right in the third, then belted another homer, this to left, in the fifth.
About that second single in Erie’s big third inning: It was actually a double had game circumstances been ignored.
“I hit it hard down the line,” Torkelson said. “I rounded first and saw the scoreboard was 12-1, and said, ‘Naw, I’ll look like a real jackass if I go for two.’ So, I shut it down, and then I slipped going back to first, and they threw me out.”
It can be noted that Torkelson’s 14 homers have come in 48 games for the SeaWolves after he blasted five in his early weeks at Single A West Michigan. He has four homers in his last four games.
The surge hasn’t been all that coincidental, Torkelson said, explaining that the SeaWolves hitting gurus, headed by Tony Melhuse, had been going to work with him earlier in the week.
“We were just kind of watching videos and seeing some things,” Torkelson said. “I wasn’t as short to the ball as I wanted to be.
“So, we tweaked some things and I was really looking forward to the (Wednesday) game. Then it was canceled with the rain, but it just gave me another batting-practice before the doubleheader to lock in some things.”
Torkelson, who is continuing to work at third and first base, is batting .271, with splits of .384 (on base) and .584 (slugging) for a robust OPS of .969.
Greene, who continues to revel in center field, is at .288/.374/.500/.874.
Kreidler, who is offering the Tigers some steadily building hope at shortstop, is at .254/.324/.431/.755.
Lynn Henning is a freelance writer and former Detroit News sports reporter.