Live from St. George with Russell Steinberg

ImageGive me a hotdog, a ballgame and some fireworks and I’m a happy guy. Throw in the chance to watch the stars of tomorrow with the Manhattan skyline in the background, and it’s all pretty tough to beat.

Baseball and the 4th of July go perfectly together, and this year it was no different at Richmond County Bank Ballpark in Staten Island. Sure, the Yankees fell in this one 9-1 against the first-place Hudson Valley Renegades, but the great part about baseball is that there’s always tomorrow.

Yankees starter Jairo Heredia didn’t have his best stuff. Through his first three starts he had thrown 13.1 innings giving up just one run, but Ariel Soriano touched him up early on Thursday with a home run to right center on the first pitch of the game.

“He battled,” manager Justin Pope said of his starter. “He could have easily caved in at any time during the game, but he didn’t.”

Heredia settled down from there, keeping the Renegades off the board until the fourth inning, but the Yankees’ bats could not take advantage. The silver lining for fans, though, was their first glimpse of first-round pick Eric Jagielo. The third baseman made his Staten Island debut on Thursday, going 1 for 4.  Jagielo is coming from a rehab stint in Tampa where he worked his way back from a hamstring injury while soaking up advice from big leaguers like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson.

“I know the first year is the toughest,” Jagielo said, adding that Rodriguez told him getting into a daily routine will help him manage the grind of playing every day.

Fans will expect more success from Jagielo as he continues to adjust to pro ball. It’s just a question of how long he will be in Staten Island. Higher levels of the minors surely await him, as he seems to be fundamentally sound, especially in the field.

“A lot of young players are kinda looking in to have you tell him what to do,” Pope said. “Whereas you look over and he’s already where he needs to be.”

Pope added that though it’s always tough to lose a game, Heredia kept the Yankees in a position to win throughout. Heredia gave up four runs on eight hits in six innings, striking out five.

While the Yankees continued to struggle to push a run across, the crowd of 4,703 remained hopeful, making its “Let’s Go Yankees” cheers heard for much of the night. Assistant director of entertainment Michael Katz also helped elevate the crowd’s energy, as he does every night. His cheers, dances, jokes and contests provide plenty of entertainment between each inning (and if you’re lucky, a flying t-shirt could be coming your way as well).

Unfortunately for the Yankees, no amount of extra fan energy was able to counteract an explosive top of the ninth for the Renegades. Already leading 4-0, they tacked on five more runs to put the game out of reach. A home run from Yeicok Calderon in the bottom of the ninth did little to help. It was Calderon’s team-leading fifth home run of the year and he accounts for half of the team’s long balls so far.

Tickets are still available for Tuesday night’s game against the Connecticut Defenders. There’s no better time to visit the ballpark and see the Baby Bombers in action then right now!

Russell Steinberg runs the blog “Live from St. George,” which covers the 2013 Staten Island Yankees. He graduated from NYU in 2012 and writes part-time for SBNation.com.

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