Late rally falls short for Amarillo Sod Poodles in Hodgetown opener

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Caleb Roberts of the Amarillo Sod Poodles hits a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth during Amarillo’s home opener at Hodgetown on Tuesday night. [Lauren Corea/ Press Pass Sports]

The power that fans are accustomed to seeing from the Amarillo Sod Poodles came before their home opener at Hodgetown was over Tuesday evening.

Problem, it came a little too little and a little too late.

After several innings dominated by pitchers to start the game with Corpus Christi, the Sod Poodles got a pair of late-inning home runs to provide some excitement for the home opener attended by 5,452. But they weren’t enough in the end, as the Soddies left the tying and potential runs on base in the bottom of the ninth and fell to the Hooks 5-4.

As home openers went, it was highly entertaining and competitive, capped by postgame fireworks which seemed to celebrate the start of another professional baseball season in Amarillo as anything.

Soddie starter Chad Patrick and Hooks starter Jaime Melendez had solid starts, and Corpus Christi’s Angel Macuare had a rare four-inning save. It was a case where the pitching outshone the offense at Hodgetown.

“(Corpus) had a really good pitcher on the mound and he did a good job of executing some pitches and kept us at bay for the first seven innings,” Sod Poodles manager Shawn Roof said. “(Macuare) is going to start one of the games for them, maybe the game on Sunday so we knew he was piggybacking until we could knock him out of there.”

Amarillo Sod Poodles starter Chad Patrick delivers a pitch against Corpus Christi at Hodgetown on Tuesday night. [Lauren Corea/ Press Pass Sports]

It was a tough luck outing for Patrick, making his Class AA debut. Patrick had to labor through his first inning, as J.C. Correa fouled off a long string of pitches before Patrick finally struck him out to end the inning and leave two Hooks runners on base.

For the first four innings, Patrick allowed four hits and walked only one as the game remained scoreless.

“Considering the way the first inning went, we have a rule where you can’t throw over 35 pitches in an inning,” Patrick said. “That was playing a factor that I might not making it out of the first inning. I’m pretty happy with the way it went getting over four-plus, so I think it went pretty good.”

The bottom of the Corpus Christi lineup got to Patrick in the top of the fifth after the Sod Poodles got on the board on Tim Tawa’s sacrifice fly which scored Caleb Roberts in the bottom of the fourth.

C.J. Stubbs led off the inning with single, then scored on Shay Whitcomb’s double deep into the left-center gap to tie it 1-1. Whitcomb went to third on Quincy Hamilton’s groundout to short, and Patrick was pulled because he was approaching his pitch limit.

“It’s been talked about since I got here that the ball flies here,” Patrick said. “At the end of the day if you’re going out there executing your pitches whether your getting hit or not, it comes back you. I felt pretty good about executing everything.”

That performance pleased Roof.

“(Patrick) threw the ball really well,” Roof said. “He settled in after the first inning and kept competing even after they kept they kept fouling off a bunch of pitches. He never gave in and gave us 4 1/3 innings. I’d like to have seen him get a win but I was glad he got a chance.”

Andrew Saalfrank relieved Patrick and got Zach Daniels to ground to short, but that brought home Whitcomb and the Hooks never trailed again.

Corpus scored single runs in the sixth and seventh to got up 4-1 before the Sod Poodles started their fireworks at the plate. With two outs in the seventh, A.J. Vukovich hit his first homer of the year, going the opposite field to clear the short porch in right field for a solo shot to cut it to 4-2.

In the top of the ninth, the Hooks got a big insurance run against Soddies reliever Jeff Bain on Hamiton’s sacrifice fly to make it 5-2.

Jordan Lawlar led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk, then Roberts hit a towering blast to left-center off Macuare to cut it to 5-4. With one out, Tawa reached on an infield single and Vukovich walked to put the winning run-on base.

But Adrian Del Castillo flew out to center and Macuare struck out Neyfy Castillo to end it.

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