Bladergroen & Davidson: Behind the Bats

A powerful 6'4'' 6'5'' duo that hails from Albuquerque, NM and Edmonds, WA has been dominating Capital City hitting with .394 and .389 respectively. Ian Bladergroen and Tyler Davidson, who trade playing time at first base, have driven home six of the team's fourteen homeruns this season. The two, who were acquired in 2002, set the pace for both the team and for each other. Davidson says that the rivalry "puts us head-to-head together. It's kind of good for us."

The competition is just as healthy for the Bombers, who sit at first place in the South Atlantic League Southern Division, a game and a half ahead of second place Rome Braves.

After an admittedly difficult spring, Davidson has stepped up both behind the bat and in the field. Repeatedly smashing the ball over the fence or deep into the outfield, Davidson has proven strength is not an issue. Once he calmed down, "took everything slow at the plate... nice and easy and relaxed" the homeruns flowed. He previously had an eight-game hitting streak that ended abruptly in the first face-off against the Rome Braves. Teammate Ian Bladergroen says that Tyler's, "a ridiculous athlete. He's going to go far." The 6'5'' part of the pair, Tyler intimidates at first base and has literally stretched himself to keep runners from even touching the base he so zealously guards.

Not to be left out of the spotlight, Bladergroen has the opportunity to go far in his own right. Sitting on top of a .886 slugging average and an RBI count that has risen to the top of the SAL season charts, it's clear that Davidson isn't the only one who can wield a bat on the Capital City's team. The twenty-one year old Bladergroen, or "Blade," has been practicing long hours to perfect his swing, which he hopes will help carry his team to the playoffs. After almost an entire season spent getting used to the switch from metal to wooden bats, Bladergroen thinks that his "swing is the best it's ever been." Catcher Jimmy Anderson, number eighteen, seems to agree. "Ian's on fire right now."

Both Davidson and Bladergroen, however, seem to get the most intense motivation not from their coaches, but their moms-- the competition has trickled down to the household matriarchs. Making the game truly a family affair, the two mothers spur their sons on using the other batter's performance as a prod. When Ian bats well, Tyler's mom asks if he's going to step it up. Likewise, on Tyler's good day Ian's mother wants to know if the two are competing and if her son would answer with a hit, or even a homer, of his own. Everything's good-natured, although the ones who seem to be hurting from this competition aren't the batters, but the teams they're batting against.

The two only have praise for each other and aim on a good season with a title waiting for them at the end. With their performance so far, a bid to the play-offs isn't out of the question. Both cite tight teamwork as the key factor that makes the Bombers so successful, from the entire team down to the individual players. Bladergroen says, "A lot of us played together last year in Brooklyn. ...Hopefully (we'll) all move up along the way together." Indeed, twenty of the current twenty-eight Bombers belonged to the Brooklyn Club at least part of last year's season. Davidson says, "There's a lot of team chemistry."

The hit-happy pair, who clearly favors home runs, maintains a high profile status on the team because of their accomplishments behind the plate. After any given game they can be found at the fence by the dugout signing autographs for the throngs of young fans, and a few older ones, eager to get close to such talent. Their personalities invite the children's admiration and they're happy to oblige the autograph seekers, signing papers, programs, and any balls that get handed their way. Clearly pleased with the Bombers' victories this season, Bladergroen and Davidson aim for the top and are working hard to get them and their team there. With help from this gifted duo, the Bombers stand a good shot at both the play-offs and the ever elusive title.

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