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2021 In Review: Trash Pandas Hitting - Part 1 

Ibandel Isabel's towering home runs electrified Toyota Field on numerous occasions. (Javier Sanchez/Rocket City Trash Pandas)
October 28, 2021

At the plate, the Rocket City Trash Pandas lived up to their name in the inaugural season. As a team, they hit 152 home runs over 110 games to lead Double-A South. The highlights came up and down the lineup against all opponents. In the third article of our Season

At the plate, the Rocket City Trash Pandas lived up to their name in the inaugural season. As a team, they hit 152 home runs over 110 games to lead Double-A South. The highlights came up and down the lineup against all opponents.

In the third article of our Season In Review series, here is Part 1 of the top 10 hitting performances from the 2021 Trash Pandas season. In case you missed them, click here to read Pitching Part 1 and click here to read Pitching Part 2.

10 – Thrilling Comeback Powers Trash Pandas To First Win – May 6

Didder did it. 👌@Didder94 with a bases-clearing triple to give us a 10-7 lead! #LetsRocket

— Rocket City Trash Pandas (@trashpandas) May 7, 2021

After losses in the first two games in franchise history, the Trash Pandas were headed down the wrong path again in the third game of the season, trailing 7-0 after four innings in Chattanooga during the second game of a doubleheader on May 6. From there, the rally was on. Rocket City got three in the fifth on RBI hits from Michael Stefanic and David MacKinnon to cut into the deficit. With the temperature dropping and wind speed increasing in the sixth, Michael Cruz made it a one-run game with a three-run blast down the right field line for his first Trash Pandas homer. A bases-loaded walk by Orlando Martinez then tied the game before Ray-Patrick Didder cleared the bases with a triple, capping a seven-run rally to give the Trash Pandas a 10-7 lead. That would prove to be the final in the first Rocket City victory. Didder and Cruz each drove in three while Stefanic went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI.

9 – Nay Carries Trash Pandas Past Former Team – June 27

He did it again, folks!!

Have yourself a (multi-HR) day, @mitchnay7! 💣

— Rocket City Trash Pandas (@trashpandas) June 27, 2021

Mitch Nay finished the 2021 season tied for the Double-A South lead with a career-high 23 home runs. But of the 106 games Nay played in, only once did he leave the yard twice. Facing the team he spent the majority of the 2019 season with, Nay went off on June 27 at Chattanooga’s AT&T Field, going 3-for-5 with two home runs, a double, and three RBI. He started the scoring with a home run as the game’s second batter and later expanded the lead with a two-run homer in the sixth as the Trash Pandas beat the Lookouts 9-6 to earn a split of the six-game series.

8 – Isabel Delivers For Adoring Crowd – July 23

🗣️ IBANDEL ISABEL HAS LEFT THE BUILDING@Ibandel_isblll | #LetsRocket

— Rocket City Trash Pandas (@trashpandas) July 24, 2021

A fan favorite for the duration of his time in the Rocket City, slugger Ibandel Isabel was at the top of his game on a Friday night in July against Tennessee. Batting seventh in the lineup, the designated hitter lived up to his position in the fourth inning with a towering solo drive over the fence in right-center to give the Trash Pandas a two-run lead. In his next at-bat, Isabel did it again with another home run, this time to left-center to make it 5-2 Rocket City. With his first multi-home run game of the season already secured, Isabel stepped to the plate in the eighth with a chance to add to the lead. With the crowd at Toyota Field chanting his name throughout the at-bat, Isabel grounded out before the Trash Pandas finished the victory.

After two mammoth home runs tonight for the @trashpandas, the Toyota Field crowd is chanting Ibandel Isabel’s name before his at-bat in the 8th inning. 👏

The legend of @Ibandel_isblll is growing by the day! #WeBelieve #LetsRocket #HavingABlast

— Aaron Cheris (@AaronHowie) July 24, 2021

“That was really cool because he’s an extraordinary human being,” Trash Pandas Manger Jay Bell said of Isabel. “It was fun for me out there too even through he grounded out in his last at-bat. They would have erupted if he hit another home run.”

7 – Wilson Joins The 20/20 Club – August 21

Izzy Wilson singled.
Then he stole second.
Then he stole third.
Then he stole home.

— Rocket City Trash Pandas (@trashpandas) August 22, 2021

Izzy Wilson entered play on August 21 against Chattanooga with 19 home runs and 22 stolen bases on the season, right on the verge of becoming the first 20/20 player in Rocket City history. In the second inning, he crushed Mac Sceroler’s pitch deep to left-center and pointed to the dugout in celebration as he rounded first base. However, his fly ball hit the top of the wall and stayed in play for a single. Realizing his mistake in not hustling for a double, Wilson quickly made up for it by stealing second, third, and home later in the inning to increase the Rocket City lead. Three innings later, Wilson left no doubt with a long solo blast off Sceroler to left to reach the 20 home run plateau and become the first Angels farmhand to join the 20/20 club since Kole Calhoun in 2011. Wilson finished the night 2-for-4 with two runs, a home run, two RBI, and three stolen bases in an 11-5 Trash Pandas win.

“He should have been on second or third to start that inning. He anticipated that ball going over the wall but it didn’t,” Bell said of Wilson’s single in the second. “With that being said, he made up for the mistake by stealing second, stealing third, and stealing home. He’s done a terrific job for us.”

6 – Record Rout Without A Home Run – August 7

Choppa Style ft. @AnthonyMoose_36


— Rocket City Trash Pandas (@trashpandas) August 8, 2021

On August 6, the Trash Pandas suffered one of their biggest losses of the season, 11-1 to Chattanooga at AT&T Field. The next night, Rocket City turned the tides and delivered their biggest win of the season at the time, 14-2 over the Lookouts. The win evened the Trash Pandas’ record at 40-40 over 80 games. Despite a league-high home run total, the visitors plated 14 runs without the benefit of a homer. Rocket City posted 10 singles and a season-high five doubles.

Six of the nine starters recorded a multi-hit game. Catcher Anthony Mulrine led the way with two doubles and four RBI while Wilson scored three times and Ray-Patrick Didder was 3-for-6 with two runs and three RBI. In the second, the first Rocket City run scored as MacKinnon dashed to the plate for a steal of home while Wilson took second. The steal was just the third of MacKinnon’s professional career and marked the second time a Trash Panda stole home.

All of these records would stand … until the next day.

Stay tuned for more on that in Part 2 next week!