Trash Pandas rally for 6-4 win
Rocket City wins 10th game of the year
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning in a tie game, the Rocket City Trash Pandas rallied for a pair of runs to earn a 6-4 victory over the Birmingham Barons in the opener of their six-game series on Tuesday night at Toyota Field.
Braxton Martinez led off the bottom of the eighth with a walk and was replaced by pinch-runner Torii Hunter Jr. As the go-ahead run, Hunter Jr. promptly stole second to get into scoring position. Livan Soto then laced a clutch single up the middle, plating Hunter Jr. with what proved to be the winning run. The next hitter, Kevin Maitan, reached on an error that allowed Soto to come home all the way from first base to give the Trash Pandas a 6-4 lead.
The 6-4 score would stand as the final after Eric Torres (S, 2) threw a scoreless top of the ninth inning to earn his second save of the season as Rocket City improved to 10-6 through 16 games.
Rocket City starter Brett Kerry began the night by striking out the Barons in order in the top of the first. But in the second, Kerry walked the first two hitters he faced before RBI singles from Raudy Read and Jagger Rusconi put the Barons up 2-0.
That would prove to be the end of Kerry’s night after 51 pitches in the first two innings. He didn’t factor in the final decision after giving up two runs on two hits with two walks and recording all six outs with the strikeout.
The Trash Pandas responded in the bottom of the fourth when Trey Cabbage crushed a monstrous solo home run that nearly hit the scoreboard in right field for his Southern League leading sixth homer of the season. An inning later, the Trash Pandas loaded the bases for Bryce Teodosio, who delivered with a sharp two-run single to center to put the home team ahead 3-2.
In long relief out of the Rocket City bullpen, Cristopher Molina was sharp early, working around baserunners in both the third and fourth before a one, two, three fifth inning. Pitching with the lead for the first time in the sixth, Molina allowed a leadoff double to Yoelqui Cespedes. Craig Dedelow followed with a high fly ball that carried over the wall in right field for a two-run homer, restoring the Birmingham lead at 4-3. Molina pitched 4.0 innings in relief, giving up two runs on four hits with two strikeouts.
The Trash Pandas again answered, this time in the bottom of the seventh. Kevin Maitan led off with a single but was stuck on first after back-to-back strikeouts. Aaron Whitefield stepped to the plate and hit a deep fly ball off the wall in center for a game-tying triple to even the score at 4-4.
Reliever Sean McLaughlin kept the score tied with a clean top of the eighth, setting the stage for the game-winning rally. McLauighlin (W, 1-1) would earn his first win of the season behind 2.0 scoreless innings with four strikeouts.
At the plate, Cabbage was the only Trash Pandas player to record a pair of hits while the bottom five hitters in the Rocket City lineup all recorded a hit, capped by Teodosio’s two-run single in the fifth and Soto’s game-winning hit in the eighth.
The Trash Pandas (10-6) and Barons (7-9) continue their series with an Education Day matchup on Wednesday morning. First pitch at Toyota Field is scheduled for 11:05 a.m. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio.
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