Trash Pandas win opening night
Trash Pandas defeat Baron 8-2 to start season
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Behind a monster night at the plate from Trey Cabbage in his debut and a strong overall pitching performance, the Rocket City Trash Pandas used a late rally to earn an Opening Night victory, 8-2 over the Birmingham Barons on Friday night at Regions Field.
Batting as the Trash Pandas’ cleanup hitter, Cabbage had a blast at the plate, going 3-for-5 with a two-run homer, a three-run double, a stolen base, and two runs scored to lead the offense as Rocket City earned an Opening Night win for the first time in franchise history.
The season started well for the Trash Pandas, with Aaron Whitefield lacing a leadoff single to left and stealing second. But Whitefield was left on base when Trey Cabbage struck out swinging against Birmingham starter Davis Martin.
Making his second career Double-A start, Rocket City righty Brett Kerry was dealing form his first pitch. He began the game by striking out three Barons swinging in the first and then recorded three more strikeouts in the second to work around a pair of singles.
Martin and Kerry traded zeroes for the first three innings. Braxton Martinez began the fourth with a ground-rule double deep to right-center. Following his first-inning strikeout, Cabbage made sure nobody was left on base in his second at-bat by crushing a 420-foot two-run home run to dead center for the first runs of the season.
Pitching with the lead for the first time, Kerry did his part by retiring the Barons in order in the fourth with a strikeout, a fly out, and a ground out.
In the fifth, Xavier Fernandez led off with a single to left for Birmingham. Alex Destino followed by hitting a comebacker right to Kerry, who threw to second to start a double play for the first two outs. Kerry ended his outing by striking out Luis Curbelo on three pitches.
Over 5.0 brilliant innings, Kerry kept the Barons off the board, allowing five hits and walking none while recording a career-high eight strikeouts in just his sixth professional start. However, he would not factor in the final decision.
Cristopher Molina entered in the sixth for the Barons and immediately hit Jose Rodriguez to put the tying run at the plate. Two hitters later, Craig Dedelow’s liner down the right field line stayed fair and just cleared the fence for a two-run homer to the game 2-2.
Leading off the seventh, Rocket City third baseman Kevin Maitan battled back from an 0-2 count to draw a leadoff walk against Birmingham reliever Felipe Tejada. Zach Humphreys then laid down a perfect bunt for a hit to put the go-ahead runs on base. Once the runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch, Whitefield restored the Trash Pandas’ lead with a sacrifice fly to left, and Livan Soto made it a two-run game by lacing a single to left.
Molina held the lead with a clean seventh, and the Trash Pandas added to it in the eighth when Cabbage singled, stole second, and came around to score on a wild pitch to make it a 5-2 game. Eric Torres kept it that way with a scoreless bottom of the eighth.
In the ninth, Cabbage came through again, this time with a two-out bases-clearing double to drive in three more runs to break the game open at 8-2. Former Barons reliever Luis Ledo came in for the Trash Pandas in the ninth and worked around two walks and a hit to pitch a scoreless ninth and clinch the six-run win.
On the mound, Molina earned the win despite giving up two runs. The win is his seventh Trash Pandas victory, moving him into first place in franchise history after he and Cooper Criswell each notched six wins in 2021.
The top four hitters in the Trash Pandas’ lineup combined for six hits and five runs scored. Making his Double-A debut, Humphreys went 1-for-3 with two runs and a walk. As a team, Rocket City stole four bases in the win with Whitefield recording a pair in his Rocket City debut.
The Trash Pandas (1-0) continue their season-opening weekend series against the Barons (0-1) on Saturday night. First pitch at Regions Field is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio.
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