Sky Sox Phillips in lightning
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Sky Sox outfielder leaves the batter's box for a fifth-inning double as lightning strikes overhead. (BRENT BRIGGEMAN, THE GAZETTE)

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I caught the Sky Sox series opener against New Orleans on a rain-soaked Fourth of July Wednesday. Here are some thoughts.

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Orlando Arcia... still very good

The 23-year-old shortstop made his first appearance in Colorado Springs since he was called up by Milwaukee in Aug. 2016, and he still looked like a future star. He homered in his first at bat. He drew a walk and went 1-for-3 in the 9-2 Sky Sox victory that was called in because of rain in the fifth. He also made a sterling play from short on a slow roller from speedy Baby Cakes center fielder Magneuris Sierra, and he frequently displayed that hard-to-define fluidity that just lets you know he’s “got it.” Of course, he didn’t look like he “had it” this season for Milwaukee as he was slashing .197/.231/.251 over 66 games. The Brewers have the best record in the National League, yet they hold only a one-game lead in their division. There’s a long way to go, they need all the help they can get and they are currently holding what feels like an open audition at shortstop – one of the key positions on any team. It would sure benefit them if Arcia can spend his time in Colorado Springs recapturing some of what he had last year when he hit 15 home runs and was a reliable, everyday player. Wednesday night showed that is very much a possibility.

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Ned Yost IV… hitting coach gets game ball

It’s rare that you can find a hitting coach’s imprint on a game quite as obvious as it was for the Sky Sox on Wednesday. Arcia, hitting second, went opposite field for a home run. The next batter, Tyrone Taylor, did the same thing. Later in the first Jake Hager doubled to right. Even pitcher Aaron Brooks went opposite field for a single. At one point New Orleans second baseman Eric Campbell made four consecutive plays as right-handed batters wore out the right side. Without being privy to the pregame plan, it seemed fairly obvious that Yost’s scouting report against Baby Cakes pitcher Zac Gallen – a highly regarded pitcher in the Marlins’ system – was to wait on the ball and drive it the other way. The Sky Sox responded and put up 12 hits and nine runs against Gallen in 4 2/3 innings.

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Nate Orf… making himself at home

The best Sky Sox story on Wednesday came not in Colorado Springs, but in Milwaukee. Nate Orf, the 28-year-old longtime farmhand who received his first callup early in the week, collected his first big-league hit on Wednesday and it was a seventh-inning home run that turned out to be the game-winner. It’s hard not to root for a guy spent 619 minor league games preparing for this opportunity, including 288 with the Sky Sox.

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Seek cover… the perfect storm

When the sky opened up in the fifth inning for a rain storm that ultimately wiped out the rest of the game (it was already official at that point anyway) and the planned fireworks show, it also highlighted the lack of cover available at Security Service Field. Granted, this was quite literally the perfect storm of events, as the rain came swiftly and intensely and it happened on a night with a massive gathering of 8,995. Still, as the team has often mentioned extending the upper suite level from its current location all the way to the pavilion down the right field line, Wednesday’s events showed how advantageous that could be for fans on rainy nights.

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