A daily feature of Indians Baseball Insider, Around the Farm, obviously won’t be able to be produced until there are minor league games played. In its place, for the time being, a fun feature we are going to try out is This Day in Indians Minor League History. We will do some research and try to find some interesting or random box scores or information that happened in the Indians minor leagues on this particular day. We will try to make this a daily feature as long as we can find something to post other than just repeating items from the last few years to avoid too much repetitiveness. Hope you enjoy, stay well and hope we can get baseball back soon!

Today’s ‘This Day in Indians Minor League History’ will throw it back to April 18, 2019 for Will Benson’s four homer game for the Lake County Captains. This is the original game report from with Benson detailing his at bats and homers with video from Benson himself and some highlights. Enjoy!

A tale of four home runs by Will Benson on a history making night as a Lake County Captain and in minor league baseball.

1st Homer

A six pitch at bat that ended with laser, two run homer run off the double-decker sign just standing behind the right field grass seating area.

“The first one was a 3-2 fastball. Had put together a pretty good at bat. Was looking to square something up. Got it,” Benson said.

2nd Homer

Benson hammered the first pitch between the right-centerfield scoreboard the sign board he hit earlier. The ball cleared the fence behind the clubhouse and bounced into the parking lot behind Classic Park. It bounced over a Laketran bus as it drove by for a solo homer.

“First pitch fastball down the middle,” Benson recounted.

3rd Homer

Benson battled and saw 10 pitches before hitting a grand slam just left of the scoreboard in right center field. It wasn’t hit as hard as the first ball, nor as far as the second one. But this was counted for four runs and came from some of the hardest work Benson did all night. You know…besides running 240 feet four times.

“My third at bat was my favorite one. Not only because it was bases loaded. Just because the amount of pitches I fouled off and battled off. I don’t know how many it was but when I got to two strikes, I probably had four or five foul balls. I was pleased that I was still battling and working through. Then I got another good pitch to hit. Thank God I got it. A changeup and hit the ball to right center.”

4th Homer 

Another two run home run. It was a seven pitch at bat that ended with another home to right center field, not far from where the grand slam landed. This was one was off of South Bend reliever Jeff Passantino. A pitcher Benson remembered from his 2018 season quite well.

“That kid dominated me last year. It was a slider, 2-2. I was looking for something out over the plate that I could put the barrel on and got a slider.”

Benson Breaks Wonderboy In 5th At Bat

Benson saw eight more pitches, bringing him to a total of 38 pitches seen on the night. On the seventh pitch of that bat, Benson broke the bat on a foul ball into the right field stands. The at bat ended in a strikeout, but the intimate crowd on hand for the at bat at Classic Park gave Benson a hearty cheer.

“Another at bat I was pretty happy battling off pitches. I got a slider that broke in on my hands and was able to get some of the bat on so I could stay alive. I think I’ve done a good job of that. So even though I struck out, I was still pleased that it happened.”

“That felt good. I don’t like striking out but to have them clap for me was nice.”

Will Benson hit 22 homers in 2018 and participated in the Midwest League home run derby. He finished 2018 batting .180.

In the opening week of the season, Benson said he was back to take care of “unfinished business,” – both in terms of team and overall performance.

He was a business mercenary on Thursday April 18 as the Captains outslugged the South Bend Cubs 12-4.  

Benson came into the night having an excellent start to 2019, hitting .282/.391/.564 with two homers.

He finished the night by being the first hitter in minor league baseball since 2014 to hit four home runs, accomplished by Mike Ford of the Charleson River Dogs (courtesy SABR).

His eight RBI night tied the Captains record held by Matt Knox (2003) who had two grand slams of the game (courtesy of Tim Shirer, Lake County Sentinel).

April 18, 2009

Columbus Clippers play first game at Huntington Park

The scene is the corner of Nationwide Boulevard and Neil Avenue on the outskirts of downtown Columbus, The city’s Arena District, already home to the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets for the last eight and a half years, has now crept closer to the Scioto River with the construction of Huntington Park, the new home of the city;s longest-tenured professional franchise, the Columbus Clippers.

Not only was this ballpark more accessible than the Clips’ old home on Mound Street, Cooper Stadium (in this author’s opinion, a vastly underrated ballpark), but also far more impressive and modern. The cherry on the top of this proverbial ice cream sundae if excitement was that the Clippers were through wandering in the affiliate wilderness after being dropped by the New York Yankees two years earlier. A short-term affiliation with the Washington Nationals had given way to an agreement with the Cleveland Indians. Between the recent on-field success of the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate in recent seasons (.500 or better every year in Buffalo [starting in 1995] except for a 66-77 2008 with seven division titles and three league championships in 14 seasons) and the easy ability to see former Clippers in the majors (parent club only two and a half hours northeast on Interstate 71), this affiliation was a dream come true for Columbus baseball fans.

The dream became reality on this warm (74 degrees), sunny Saturday afternoon as a capacity crowd of 11,950, including such dignitaries as Indians legend Bob Feller, saw the Clippers take on the Toledo Mud Hens in a battle of Ohio, While the game didn’t go as Clippers fans hoped, with a 3-1 loss dropping the Columbus nine to 4-6 on the season, they did in fact see several future Indians. The most notable being CF and leadoff hitter Michael Brantley, who would make his debut as a September call-up (remember those?) later that season. Also in the Clippers lineup that day were SS Luis Valbuena, RF Matt LaPorta, C Chris Gimenez, and 2B-LF Josh Barfield. Heck, even one of the Mud Hens, CF Ryan Raburn, ended up playing for the Tribe.

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