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Friday, April 06, 2012
GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas – Despite being the fourth starter in the Grand Prairie AirHogs’ 2011 championship run, righty John Brownell had the two best starts of any hurler – and arguably the two most important, winning Game 4 in both the AirHogs’ division series win against Wichita and championship series victory over St. Paul. Now, with the retirement of Jason Jennings and the trade of Josh Rainwater, the 28-year-old is likely going to be the staff ace, as he re-signed for another year with the AirHogs.
The native of Norman, Okla., went 11-5 with a 3.86 ERA during the regular season for the AirHogs, allowing less than a hit per inning. But it was in the postseason that Brownell really excelled. With Grand Prairie ahead two games to one in the first round, they took on the daunting task of facing Wingnuts ace Nick Singleton, but Brownell out-dueled the Wichita righty, going eight innings, while allowing one run on five hits and two walks, with five strikeouts as the AirHogs clinched the series with a 2-1 win.
A week later, the AirHogs were trailing the Saints two games to one, but Brownell went the distance to force the championship series to Game 5, allowing one earned run (three total), on seven hits and three walks with nine strikeouts as Grand Prairie won 10-3.
Overall, Brownell posted a 1.06 ERA in the two postseason wins, striking out 14 in 17 innings pitched with five walks and 12 hits.
In addition, the AirHogs signed a pair of rookies, pitcher Ryan Hanna and utility player Seth Boyd. Hanna, a 25-year-old righty, spent four years at Lafayette (Pa.) College, posting a 6-3 record as a senior. Boyd spent four years at Wagner (N.Y.) College, and hit .330 as a senior in 2011, with 25 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 50 games. Boyd played at least 50 games in all four seasons of his collegiate career, posting a .299 average with 12 homers and 109 RBIs.
The 2011 American Association Champion Grand Prairie AirHogs begin the defense of their title on Thursday, May 17, against the Laredo Lemurs at 7:30 p.m. The 2012 home opener is Monday, May 21, at 7:05 p.m. against the El Paso Diablos. Check back at the team’s official Web site www.airhogsbaseball.com for any other off-season news as develops. For information on 2012 tickets, promotions, advertising, and other opportunities with the AirHogs, check out the Web site as well, or call the QuikTrip Park office at (972) 504-9383.