With two on and one out in the bottom of the 1st, third baseman Renato Nunez ripped a 3-run homer to give the RockHounds an early lead that they would never relinquish as they notched the win in Game #2 of the Texas League Championship series on Wednesday. And the Hounds now just need to win one of the next three games in the best-of-five series to clinch their second straight Texas League championship. Nunez also singled in the 7th, while outfielder Jaycob Brugman homered in his fourth straight game, slugging a 2-run shot in the 4th, and also doubled and walked in the game. First baseman Anthony Aliotti singled, doubled twice and scored twice, and designated hitter Ryon Healy singled, doubled and drove in a run for the RockHounds. Starter Chris Jensen gave up 4 runs over 6 innings work to pick up the win. RHP Seth Frankoff tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while RHP Tucker Healy came in to notch the final two outs in the 8th on strikeouts, and RHP Brendan McCurry allowed 2 runs, just 1 earned, in the 9th, but the Hounds hung on for the win. After an off-day on Thursday, the series shifts to Springdale, Arkansas as RHP Parker Frazier takes the mound on Friday as Midland attempts to clinch its second straight Texas League title.
LHP Sean Manaea kicked off the Texas League Championship Series by turning in another strong start for the RockHounds, allowing just 2 unearned runs while striking out 7 over 8 innings of work to earn the victory against his former team as the Hounds won Game #1 on Tuesday. Midland outfielder Jaycob Brugman belted his 3rd home run of the postseason to put his team on the board in the bottom of the 3rd, while designated hitter Renato Nunez singled in a run to tie the game later in the same inning. First baseman Anthony Aliotti singled in 2 runs in the 4th, and RHP Brendan McCurry got the final three outs in the 9th to earn the save. In roster news, Stockton outfielder J.P. Sportman was added to the RockHounds postseason roster on Tuesday. And with his team up by a game in the best-of-five series, RHP Chris Jensen is set to make the start in Game #2 at Midland on Wednesday.
LHP Sean Manaea, acquired from Kansas City in the Ben Zobrist trade, turned in another impressive start for the RockHounds on Saturday, scattering just 3 hits while striking out 7 over 7 shutout innings to earn his 5th win for Midland. RHP Tucker Healy tossed a scoreless 8th inning and RHP Brendan McCurry picked up his 4th save despite giving up a run in the top of the 9th. First baseman Anthony Aliotti hit a 2-run homer in the 6th to provide all the runs the RockHounds would need on Saturday. Shortstop Chad Pinder doubled, walked and scored a run, while third baseman Ryon Healy and designated hitter Renato Nunez had a pair of hits apiece, and second baseman Colin Walsh drew 3 walks to increase his league-leading total to 110 and raise his league-leading on-base percentage to .447.
Starter Aaron Brooks was impressive for the Sounds on Sunday, allowing 1 run on just 3 hits while walking none and striking out 8 over 7 innings of work to earn the win for Nashville. Catcher Bryan Anderson and shortstop Tyler Ladendorf each had 3 hits, including a double, and drove in 2 runs, while second baseman Joey Wendle had 2 hits and drove in a pair. Third baseman Brent Morel collected 4 hits, including a double, and scored 3 times, and outfielder Craig Gentry had 3 hits and drove in a run for the Sounds.
The A’s organizational RBI and batting average leader, shortstop Chad Pinder, did more to improve his numbers on Tuesday. The 23-year-old went 4 for 5 with a pair of doubles while driving in all 3 of the RockHounds’ runs in the team’s 1-run loss. And Pinder’s 82 RBIs and .323 batting average both lead the Texas League as well. Starter Parker Frazier allowed 3 runs over 5 2/3 innings of work, while RHP Brendan McCurry, who hadn’t walked a batter in 9 innings since joining Midland, walked the bases loaded and then walked in the winning run in the bottom of the 9th to give Springfield the literal “walk-off” win on Tuesday. Meanwhile, RHP Tucker Healy landed on the disabled list with a right forearm strain and first baseman Anthony Aliotti returned from the temporarily inactive list for the RockHounds.
With two outs, two on and his team down by two runs in the bottom of the 7th, catcher Nick Rickles, getting a rare start at first base on Saturday, stroked a single to center field to bring in both runners and tie the game 4-4. Rickles also singled and scored a run in the 3rd, and the RockHounds plated the winning run in the 8th when second baseman Colin Walsh scored on designated hitter Chad Pinder’s sacrifice fly. Third baseman Ryon Healy had a pair of hits and a walk and drove in Rickles in the 3rd, while Matt Olson made a remarkable 9 putouts in right field. Starter Dillon Overton allowed 3 runs on 7 hits over 5 innings of work, while LHP Jeff Urlaub gave up 1 run in 2 innings of relief. RHP Ryan Doolittle struck out the side in the 8th to pick up his 4th win, and RHP Seth Frankoff got the final three outs in the 9th to notch his 7th save. In other news, outfielder Chad Oberacker was activated from the disabled list, while third baseman Renato Nunez landed on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, and first baseman Anthony Aliotti was placed on the temporarily inactive list for the RockHounds.
With two outs, a man on and his team down by a run in the bottom of the 14th, second baseman Wade Kirkland slugged a 2-run homer to give the RockHounds the walk-off win on Wednesday. And over his last 4 games for Midland, the utility infielder has now gone 10 for 20 with 2 home runs and 8 RBIs. Designated hitter Anthony Aliotti singled, doubled, homered, drove in 3 and scored twice for the Hounds. Starter Chris Jensen was strong, tossing 6 shutout innings, but he left with the game a scoreless tie. RHP Jonathan Joseph allowed 1 unearned run in the 7th and, with Midland up by two runs in the top of the 9th, RHP Seth Frankoff surrendered a 2-run homer to tie the game and send things to extra innings. LHP Omar Duran threw 3 scoreless frames in extras before catcher Beau Taylor took the mound and gave up the go-ahead run in the top of the 14th. But thanks to Kirkland’s blast, Taylor was able to pick up his 1st win for the RockHounds.
Shortstop Chad Pinder has wielded the big bat in Midland’s series against Frisco. After hitting 2 home runs on Tuesday, Pinder slugged a grand slam in the 2nd inning on Wednesday to stake the RockHounds to a big lead early in what would turn out to be a tight, 1-run game. And Pinder is now hitting .450 with 2 doubles, 3 home runs and 7 RBIs over his last 5 games. Catcher Bruce Maxwell singled in a run in the 2nd and then hit a 2-run homer in the 3rd. Starter Sean Manaea allowed 4 runs on 10 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7 over 6 innings of work to pick up his 2nd win for the RockHounds. Meanwhile, infielder Rangel Ravelo was promoted to Nashville, first baseman Anthony Aliotti was reassigned to the RockHounds, and RHP Tanner Peters was sent to the AZL A’s on a rehab assignment.
RHP Jonathan Joseph turned in his second straight strong start on Saturday, allowing 5 hits while striking out 5 over 7 shutout innings to earn his 6th win for the RockHounds. Since reaching the Double-A level for the first time this season, the 27-year-old minor league veteran has been impressive. And in 14 innings over his last 2 starts, Joseph has allowed just 1 earned run. After Joseph exited, RHP Tucker Healy pitched a perfect 8th, and RHP Ryan Dull got the final three outs in the 9th to notch his 8th save and complete the 5-hit shutout on Saturday. Outfielder Matt Angle singled, stole a base and scored Midland’s first run in the top of the 1st, while second baseman Colin Walsh singled in a run for the Hounds. And with Matt Olson and Renato Nunez set to participate in the Futures Game, infielder Rangel Ravelo was assigned to Midland on Saturday and went 0 for 3 with a walk in his RockHounds debut.
RHP Nate Long turned in his 4th straight quality start to snap Midland’s 8-game losing streak on Sunday. The 29-year-old minor league veteran struck out 5 while throwing 7 2/3 shutout innings to earn his 4th win for the RockHounds, and Long now leads all A’s minor league pitchers with 64 strikeouts. RHP Tucker Healy tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief to complete the shutout on Sunday. Third baseman Renato Nunez singled, doubled and hit his team-leading 8th home run, a 2-run shot in the bottom of the 1st, and ended up driving in 3 runs for the RockHounds. Center fielder Chad Oberacker singled, doubled, tripled, walked and scored 4 times, while designated hitter Matt Olson singled, walked 4 times, drove in 2 runs and scored twice, and outfielders Jaycob Brugman and Josh Whitaker had a pair of hits apiece in the Hounds’ first win in over a week.