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Sod Poodles Score Final Four, Last on Walk-Off Balk

Rain Couldn't Cool Off Sod Poodles Hot Bats Late
September 16, 2023

Amarillo, Texas (September 15, 2023) – Trailing entering the final two innings, Mother Nature and the Sod Poodles offense started to pour it on at HODGETOWN on Friday night. A late rally by the Sod Poodles helped erase a three-run deficit and helped Amarillo to take a 3-1 series lead

Amarillo, Texas (September 15, 2023) – Trailing entering the final two innings, Mother Nature and the Sod Poodles offense started to pour it on at HODGETOWN on Friday night. A late rally by the Sod Poodles helped erase a three-run deficit and helped Amarillo to take a 3-1 series lead over the Frisco RoughRiders as the Sod Poodles continue to build momentum into the postseason.

Conor Grammes got the spot start for the Sod Poodles and worked his way out of a first-inning jam by stranding the bases loaded. After Frisco occupied every bag with just one out in the top of the first, the Sod Poodles right-hander struck out the next two and walked off the mound without any damage done against him. The momentum swing carried over to Camden Duzenack, who belted a ball for a leadoff home run and a 1-0 Amarillo lead after the first.

After needing 27 pitches to get through the inning, Amarillo elected to make the call to the bullpen for the top of the second and for Zach Barnes to make his Double-A debut. A one-out walk and double pushed a pair into scoring position for Frisco who knotted things up on a RBI groundout. Barnes then earned his first Double-A strikeout to end the inning. Similar to Frisco's fate in the first, Amarillo left three stranded in the bottom of the inning to keep things all square and Barnes back to the bump. He made it consecutive strikeouts as he fanned the first he faced in the third before making quick work of each of the next two he faced to put an end to his two innings at HODGETOWN. Another RBI groundout for the RoughRiders in the fourth off Dillon Larsen gave Frisco the lead. The southpaw faced three in the fifth and exited the game with a pair on base for Taylor Rashi and just one out. A two-out RBI double extended the Frisco lead to two runs after the top of the fifth came to an end. Rashi was back for the sixth and struck out all three he faced.

From the second inning through the sixth, the Sod Poodles did not have a hit and left just one runner on base despite four walks thanks to a pair of double plays by the Riders' defense. Jake Rice replaced Rashi in the top of the seventh and got the first two batters he faced to fly out and line out. A single kept the inning alive with a two-out RBI double tacking on one more to the Frisco lead. After the run scored, the batter was thrown out trying to take advantage of the throw to the plate and caught between second and third for the final out of the first half of the seventh.

With the rain really starting to come down throughout the bottom of the seventh and no hits or base runners for Amarillo, things seemed bleak with Amarillo trailing 4-1. Carlos Meza put a spark into the team by striking out the side during his lone inning of work to send the offense back to the plate in the eighth looking for their first hit since the second inning. A.J. Vukovich did just that with a one-out single to start the turnaround. Three pitches later Seth Beer hit a two-run shot to bring Amarillo within one. Deyvison De Los Santos took care of the rest, going back-to-back with Beer to tie things up at 4-4.

Raffi Vizcaino took over on the mound for the top of the ninth and allowed the first man he faced to reach via a walk. A chopper to Beer at first base allowed the runner to advance to second as he flipped it to Vizcaino on a sprint to the bag for out number one of the inning. Frisco's Wyatt Langford smoked a ball through the 5-6 gap and into left field to a waiting Caleb Roberts who proceeded to earn his second outfield assist of the game with a dart to third and a flip to a covering Duzenack to catch the runner a step too far off the bag. With the potential go-ahead run taken off third, Frisco had their momentum completely snatched when Langford got caught trying to steal second for the final out of the top of the ninth with the game still tied.

Duzenack collected his third hit of the night by dropping a perfectly executed bunt down the third base line to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Tim Tawa moved Duzenack to third with a single of his own to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Frisco elected to intentionally load the bases to give themselves a force out anywhere, but it was a moot point two pitches into the next at-bat. With Vukovich at the plate, a balk was called and allowed Duzenack to trot home for the Sod Poodles' sixth walk-off win of the season and their first balk-off win, taking down Frisco 5-4.

Amarillo will look to close out the regular season with another series win if they can win one of the final two remaining games at HODGETOWN. Saturday's game is scheduled for a 7:05 p.m. start for the Sod Poodles Skyfest Spooktacular and the largest fireworks show of the season.


WHAT CAN'T HE DUZE: Camden Duzenack finished the game 3-for-5 with a home run, RBI, and two runs scored, including the game's winning run. He showed off his power with a leadoff home run, his second of such kind in an Amarillo uniform this year, the 10th overall leadoff dinger by a Sod Poodles player this year. He joins Ryan Bliss as the only Sod Poodles player to have multiple leadoff home runs this season as Bliss hit six during his time in Amarillo. Duzenack also showed off the finesse, making his third hit of the night a perfect bunt single to start the bottom of the ninth. Duzenack now is tied for the second-most three-hit games by a Sod Poodle this year with seven, joining A.J. Vukovich. Duzenack is now hitting .321 on the year through 65 games played and has hit safely in 20 of his first 28 games at HODGETOWN including 11 XBH and 17 RBI. He has also hit a walk-off winner (6/1 vs. SPR) and now scored the walk-off winning run.

BEER BOMBS: Seth Beer added his second-straight multi-hit game and his 13th over his last 25 games played. His second hit was a two-run home run that brought the Sod Poodles within one run of the lead in the eighth. For Beer, it was his 13th of the season and his first since September 2 against Midland. He was the first of back-to-back home runs for Amarillo in the inning, the seventh time Amarillo has hit consecutive long balls in the same inning in 2023, and the second time that both Beer and Deyvison De Los Santos have been a part of back-to-back jacks for Amarillo. Beer's 28 multi-hit games this year are the sixth-most on the club after Friday. All of Beer's 13 homers this season have been either solo shots or two-run shots as he also added his 15th multi-RBI game and just the third time having back-to-back multi-RBI games since June 28th-29th.

20 YEARS, 20 TANKS: Deyvison De Los Santos, the Arizona Diamondbacks' 20-year-old no. 4-rated prospect hit his 20th home run of the season to tie the game at four apiece. It was his second home run of the series and second in three games after hitting a solo home run on Wednesday. De Los Santos is one of just three players who are 20 or younger to have 20+ home runs in Double-A this season. De Los Santos joined Milwaukee's Jackson Chourio, who has 22 home runs at just 19 years old, and Chicago Cubs prospect Owen Caissie who is also 20 years old and has 21 homers this year. De Los Santos is hitting .313 (62-for-201) with 13 home runs, 12 doubles, two triples, and 32 RBI over his last 49 games. He leads the Texas League in home runs and XBH over the span while also having the third-most hits.

ZERO. SEVEN. THREE: Right-hander Taylor Rashi worked another appearance without a run charged against him. He is up to seven straight games without a run after surrendering one in his Amarillo debut back on August 16th. He owns a 0.73 ERA over his first eight games with Amarillo and has 3+ strikeouts in half of those appearances despite never working more than 2.1 IP. His 11.2 IP without a run charged against him are the sixth-longest streak by an Amarillo pitcher.

CALL YOUR GRAM: Making his sixth start of the year and just his second game against Frisco in 2023, Conor Grammes worked a scoreless opening inning with just one hit allowed. The right-hander punched out three RoughRiders in his lone inning to escape a bases-loaded situation in the first inning. Amarillo is 5-1 in games Grammes has started and the former Xavier product owns the bar for most strikeouts by an Amarillo pitcher on the current active roster. Grammes has not allowed a run in five of his last six games on the bump without allowing more than a single run in any of the six games played.

ARM BARNES & HOW NOBLE: Right-hander Zach Barnes made his Amarillo, and Double-A debut with a pair of strikeouts over two innings pitched. He allowed just one hit to the eight batters he faced. Barnes is a Scottsdale, AZ native and played his college ball at Grand Canyon University. He had previously skipped over Double-A, making his Triple-A debut before ever coming to Amarillo. Barnes owns a 7-6 all-time career record including all five of his wins this year coming from his time as a Hillsboro Hop.

V IS FOR VICTORY & VUKOVICH: D-backs' no. 10-rated prospect A.J. Vukovich was one of three Amarillo Sod Poodles to have a multi-hit game on Friday. He finished 2-for-3 with a run and a walk. He currently owns a nine-game hitting streak, the second-longest active streak in the league behind Corpus' Will Wagner (14). Vukovich's season-long hit streak was an 11-gamer which A.J. could match with a hit in each of the final two games of the regular season if he were to play in both. His nine-game hit streak also consists of five multi-hit nights.