It was a half-happy Mother’s Day for the Amarillo Sod Poodles to end their latest series at home against the Midland RockHounds on Sunday at Hodgetown.
In the end, though, it didn’t even translate into a series split.
A rainout Saturday night necessitated a doubleheader on Mother’s Day Sunday afternoon with a pair of seven-inning games to close the series. The Sod Poodles opened the last day of the series with one of their most dominant performances of the season, scoring seven runs in the first inning en route to a 10-1 victory.
However, the nightcap was the complete polar opposite. The Sod Poodles never got untracked at the plate and the RockHounds took advantage of a lack of control by Soddies pitchers to win 13-1, and left Amarillo with a 4-2 series win.
“We got after them that first game, then in the second game they came out and you have to tip your hat to their pitchers,” Sod Poodles manager Shawn Roof said. “They kept us off-balance, and they hit our mistakes.”
It couldn’t have started any better for the Sod Poodles (15-18) in Sunday’s first game, as they hit every Midland mistake and put the first seven batters on base against Midland starter J.T. Ginn. A.J. Vukovich and Tim Tawa both had RBI singles sandwiched around Deyvison De Los Santos getting hit by a pitch to bring home a run.
After Adrian Del Castillo hit a sacrifice fly to bring home a run and make it 4-0 (the only batter Ginn retired), Ginn was pulled from the game for David Leal. Kevin Vicuna hit Leal’s first pitch the other way onto the right field berm for a three-run homer to make it 7-0, giving Vicuna his first homer as a Sod Poodle.
That was all Soddies starter Luke Albright needed. Albright was dominant for the first four innings, allowing only two hits and walking none.
The only inning spoiling the game for Albright and the Soddies was the top of the fifth. Albright walked the first three batters of the inning and walked Denzel Clarke to bring home a run. But Albright finished the fifth without any further damage and picked up the win.
“It was really falling,” said Albright, who evened his record at 2-2 on the season. “(Catcher Juan Centeno) had a great game plan) and it was like pitch one, just execute it and keep on rolling. In the fifth it got a little bit hairy there and I got a little bit ahead of myself. I had to feel my way through it, but I did that, and I got the win.”
Albright struck out Brett Harris, one of Midland’s best hitters, to leave the bases loaded to end the fifth, and qualified for the win with a 10-1 lead. He was approaching a pitch count limit as it was, but he didn’t just settle for a solid outing, and ended up notching a number in the win column.
“He was very efficient through four,” Roof said of Albright. “The fifth inning he kind of lost it a little bit, but I told him I was most proud that he came back and he found it and had a way to get that win. There were some innings where he had nine or seven pitches, but when he lost it a little bit he dug down deep and got out of it.”
The next game, the Sod Poodles weren’t nearly as efficient on the mound. It began in the first inning when starter Jamison Hill walked three batters, the last two of which brought home runs to give the RockHounds (19-14) a 2-0 lead.
For the next four innings, Hill and relievers Jeff Bain and Austin Pope kept Midland from scoring, but the last two innings things blew up. Over the last two innings, three Sod Poodles relievers gave up eight runs, capped by Lazaro Armenteros hitting a grand slam off Hugh Fisher.
That got Fisher pulled from the game on a day the Soddies walked nine batters in seven innings. Nick Dalesandro, who was the starting centerfielder, got William Simoneit to fly out to right to finally end the inning.
“He’s ready for everything,” Roof said of Dalesandro, who also plays catcher. “He’s a jack of all trades. He pitched a little bit in high school and college and he’s always begging for innings.”
The Soddies avoided a shutout when Ryan Bliss led off the bottom of the seventh with a long solo homer to left field.
Patrick’s solid outing helps get first win of series
It was no coincidence that the two best starting pitching performances of the series resulted in the two wins for the Sod Poodles.
In Tuesday’s first game, Midland hit five homers, including two by Darell Hernaiz, as the RockHounds rolled to an 11-9 victory. They led 10-2 going into the bottom of the sixth before the Sod Poodles rallied to make it interesting, as Deyvison De Los Santos hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to cut it to two runs.
The next night, Chad Patrick had a solid starting outing on the mound, but unlike Albright, fell an out short of qualifying for a win. Patrick, who started the home opener this season, went 4 2/3 innings, striking out six before giving up two runs in a 6-3 victory which evened the series.
“I was definitely trying to get ahead of guys here throwing quality pitches,” said Patrick, who’s still looking for his first Double A win. “The last couple of outings before this were kind of rough so to be able to come out and throw 4 2/3 on a windy night was a plus. There’s frustration but at the end of the day you got a team win.”
The Sod Poodles fell in a hole in their first series of the season with Midland on the next two nights, though, losing 16-6 on Thursday and 6-1 on Friday.