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Frankos steps up in place of Kenyon

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | APRIL 07, 2014 5:00 AM

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Jimmy Frankos watched the ball come out of Indiana pitcher Christian Morris’ hand, a high fastball, up and inside.

He laid off, strike one.

Relaxing in the batters box, he held off again as he watched two-straight pitches sail wide of the strike zone. After taking a questionable second strike, the count sat at 2-2.

He didn’t hesitate. Swinging away, Frankos connected with the fifth pitch of his at-bat, driving a hard single over the third-basemen’s head and into the gap in left field.

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It was the first hit of the season for the Park Ridge, Ill., native in only his fifth plate appearance of the year for the Black and Gold.

“It was good to get out there and get my second start of the season,” Frankos said. “Didn’t hit the ball as hard as I would have liked to, but it’s good to be out there and help the team any way I can.”

Needing a replacement after normal starter Trevor Kenyon injured his knee sliding into third base the night before, head coach Rick Heller decided to forgo experience, instead choosing to go with Frankos behind the dish.

“I thought he did an unbelievable job today,” Heller said. “He had a couple hits and battled hard. He blocked the plate well even though he hasn’t seen a ton of time this season.”

It was just his seventh appearance of the season and only his second start.

“I think he showed everyone that he’s good enough to be a starting catcher today,” Iowa pitcher Matt Allen said.

“He’s always been a good catcher, and he’s always done well, and obviously, we have Blake [Hickman], so we don’t see him as much, but today he showed that he could really help us out.”

And while his second at-bat of the game went just about as well as he could have hoped, his début behind the plate was even better.

After giving up 5 runs in the first inning, Iowa-starting pitcher Sasha Keubel was yanked after retiring only a single batter. 

And while right-hander Brandon Shulista didn’t fare much better in his relief, Frankos stepped up to pick up the slack as best he could.

With an Indiana runner on first and breaking fast toward second, Frankos corralled a Shulista fastball before popping up to gun down the base runner before he could advance into scoring position.

An inning later, Frankos made Indiana pay again for its lazy base running, picking off a runner at third on a fielder’s choice.

“We thought he got the guy out, but they called him safe on the play before, so it was great to see him pop up and get the next guy,” Heller said. “He really threw the ball well, so I couldn’t have been any happier with how Jimmy played.”

A trial by fire if there ever was one, Frankos was a stalwart defensive presence all game, even while he watched as the Hoosiers continued to shell the seemingly endless cycle of Iowa relievers.

Nevertheless, Frankos kept his pitchers calm all game, guiding them up until the very end.

“You just got to go out there and hit your spots,” Frankos said. “Do whatever you need to do to calm them down.”


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