Francisco joins elite group when it comes to home runs

By Marc Katz

Staff Writer

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Juan Francisco joined a select group of Dayton Dragons the other day when he hit his 20th and 21st home runs.

Seven previous Dragons reached or surpassed that number four of them (Samone Peters, Wily Mo Pena, Stephen Smitherman and Randy Ruiz) in 2001. Peters holds the all-time single-season record with 28, Pena had 26, and Smitherman and Ruiz each hit 20.

The others on the list are Austin Kearns (27 in 2000), Chris Williamson (22 in 2002) and Jeremiah Piepkorn (22 in 2005).

Kearns' great streak

That's a terrific hitting streak center fielder Drew Stubbs has, but not the best in Dragons history. It would be difficult to top Kearns' 2000 eight-game tear. He hit .720 (18-for-25) with 10 homers, two doubles, 20 RBIs and 19 runs, and he was walked 10 times. He struck out exactly once during that stretch, and hit at least one homer in every game from July 17-24.

Stubbs hit .472 with three homers, four doubles, nine RBIs and 15 runs in 11 games through Wednesday, and was given Thursday off. He has struck out six times and walked three times in those games.

Louwsma versatile

Jason Louwsma has been used as a first baseman, third baseman and designated hitter this season, but also can play shortstop.

If either Zack Cozart or Justin Turner are unavailable for the position, Louwsma is the guy Dragons manager Donnie Scott will call.

"I played shortstop in high school and college," Louwsma said.

Although he doesn't have a regular position, Louwsma has played a lot and responded by moving his batting average up around .260.

Geronimo closing

Ramon Geronimo has emerged as the closer for the Dragons following the promotion of Jose Rojas. Geronimo didn't get the save Wednesday night because the Dragons were too far ahead, but he finished the game. He has 12 saves.

"I'm just coming in to close the game," Geronimo said, "to get three or two outs, or whatever we need. I like to close."

Pitching coach Doug Bair said Geronimo has two "out" pitches, a fastball and changeup.