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Trash Pandas bounce back with win over Birmingham

Luke Murphy gets win on the mound
Rocket City wins 6-5 over the Birmingham Barons in game one of their six game series
Rocket City wins 6-5 over the Birmingham Barons in game one of their six game series(WAFF)
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 10:01 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Down to their final four outs, the Rocket City Trash Pandas got the clutch hit they needed from catcher Zach Humphreys to turn a deficit into a lead for a 6-5 win over the Birmingham Barons in the opener of a six-game series from Regions Field on Tuesday night.

Trailing 5-4 in the eighth, the Trash Pandas turned the game around with a rally, mostly with two outs. Jose Gomez began the inning with a double before Ryan Aguilar grounded out and Kevin Maitan lined out. Bryce Teodosio and Livan Soto then walked to load the bases with two outs. Humphreys fouled off four straight pitches before grounding Theo Denlinger’s 1-2 offering into center for a base hit, allowing Gomez and Teodosio to score the tying and go-ahead runs for the visitors.

Eric Torres entered from the Trash Pandas bullpen and recorded two strikeouts and a fly out to hold the 6-5 lead going to the ninth. He began the final frame by striking out Yoelqui Cespedes before Xavier Fernandez’s line drive was caught in the gap by Rocket City left fielder Orlando Martinez. Torres finished the game by striking out Craig Dedelow looking to complete the win for the Trash Pandas.

The game began as well as it ended for the Trash Pandas, who wasted little time in getting on the board to start the series. The second batter of the game, Humphreys laced a triple into the right-field corner for the first hit of the night. Orlando Martinez followed with a ground ball up the middle. Birmingham shortstop Jose Rodriguez fielded and threw home, but Humphreys was able to slide under the tag to score.

An inning later, the Trash Pandas doubled the lead off Birmingham starter Scott Blewett when Aguilar connected on a solo home run to right, his third homer of the season and second in as many games, to make it 2-0.

Trash Pandas starter Brett Kerry made the support stick early , as he retired the first nine batters he faced.

Rocket City again doubled the lead in the fourth. Jose Gomez led off with a double off the wall in right. Aguilar singled to put runners on the corners. Kevin Maitan plated Gomez with a sharp single to center and Aguilar scored on a double play grounder to make it a 4-0 game in the fourth.

The lead wouldn’t last. Lenyn Sosa and Craig Dedelow each hit solo homers off Kerry in the fourth and fifth respectively to cut the Trash Pandas lead in half. Sosa tied the game in the sixth with a two-run homer to left for his second homer of the night. Tyler Neslony put Birmingham in front with solo homer of his own, completing the back-to-back shots to give the Barons a 5-4 advantage.

Kerry finished his seventh start of the season after 5.1 innings, allowing a season-high five runs on seven hits including four home runs while striking out six and walking one.

Luke Murphy (W, 3-1) was first out of the Rocket City bullpen and kept the deficit at one with 1.2 scoreless innings and one strikeout. He would earn the win thanks to the late rally. Once Rocket City took the lead in the eighth, Torres (W, 4) retired all six batters he faced, striking out four, to earn his team-leading fourth save of the season.

Humphreys led the way for Rocket City, going 3-for-5 with a triple and two RBI while Gomez and Aguilar each added a pair of hits in the win, snapping the Trash Pandas’ six-game losing streak.

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