Amarillo, Texas (August 29, 2023) – Leading by three after the bottom of the first and then trailing by three after the top of the seventh, the Sod Poodles stormed back with four unanswered runs to take game one of the series over Midland. A.J. Vukovich helped to secure the
Amarillo, Texas (August 29, 2023) – Leading by three after the bottom of the first and then trailing by three after the top of the seventh, the Sod Poodles stormed back with four unanswered runs to take game one of the series over Midland. A.J. Vukovich helped to secure the Oil Pan Cup with Amarillo's second walk-off home run of the season, downing the RockHounds 7-6 in dramatic fashion.
Peter Solomon started the series with three straight strikeouts in the top of the first inning. His offense also started fast with Vukovich beginning a two-out rally with a single in the bottom of the inning. After a walk, a two-RBI double off the bat of Seth Beer was followed by a double off the bat of Deyvison De Los Santos to score Beer and give Amarillo a three-run lead after their first at-bats of the game.
The Amarillo right-hander added two more punchouts to his line during his second inning of work to leave a leadoff walk stranded. Midland worked back with a run of their own in the third after collecting a pair of two-out hits of their own. Solomon worked consecutive innings without allowing a baserunner in the fourth and fifth innings, adding another three strikeouts to give him 10 on the night through the fifth.
After the first, Amarillo's offense could only muster one hit; De Los Santos' second hit of the ballgame was a single in the bottom of the fourth. Despite effortlessly working through his first five innings, Solomon worked into some trouble in the sixth. Each of the first four batters reached base safely with three runs coming across without an out registered as the RockHounds took a 4-3 lead. Solomon induced a double play before Jake Rice was brought in to get the Sod Poodles out of the inning by pitching a ground ball of his own.
Ivan Melendez worked his way aboard for the second time in the game with a double in the home half of the sixth but was left stranded with each of the next two being retired behind him. A couple of one-out hits off Rice in the seventh extended Midland's lead to three runs. Taylor Rashi was brought in and struck out each of the two batters he faced to keep the RockHounds within striking distance.
Neyfy Castillo did just that, hitting a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the seventh for Amarillo. A single and walk followed to put two aboard before a couple of outs sent Vukovich back to the plate. The D-backs' no. 10-rated prospect drew a walk of his own to load the bases. However, a strikeout left all three stranded with the Sod Poodles still down by two runs.
Rashi was back on the mound to start the eighth and a leadoff walk was followed by his third strikeout of the night. As a left-handed batter was due up for the RockHounds, Amarillo made a call to their bullpen again with Sod Poodles' Manager Shawn Roof electing to bring on fellow southpaw Will Mabrey. The move paid off with a tailor-made double play getting Amarillo out of the inning and sending the game to the bottom of the eighth.
Beer roped his second hit of the night with a single into right-center field before a fielding error aided in keeping both runners on base. A walk re-loaded the bases but after not getting a double play earlier, the RockHounds got one two batters later. On the play, a run still came across to bring the Sod Poodles within one and placed the tying run on third. Camden Duzenack brought his hot back with him from San Antonio as he laced a single past the third baseman to knot things up at six a piece.
Mabrey returned for the top of the ninth and struck out each of the first two he faced. A soft pop-up just past the infield dirt was hauled in by De Los Santos to retire the side in order and send the 2-3-4 hitters to the plate for Amarillo.
With the first man of the inning hitting into a groundout, Vukovich stepped back to the plate for the fourth time. After working ahead in the count 2-1, the fourth pitch of the at-bat was all he would need to see. He belted his 21st home run of the season to the opposite-field corner to give the Sod Poodles their second walk-off home run of the season and the 7-6 win in the opening game of the series.
The series will continue on Wednesday night for game two. Amarillo will send RHP Luke Albright to the hill to face the RockHounds who now sit three games back of Amarillo along with Frisco in the Texas League South in the second half. First pitch from HODGETOWN is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.
WALK-OFF WINNER: A.J. Vukovich played the part of the Sod Poodles hero on Tuesday night, hitting a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the ninth with one out. It capped a 2-for-4 night at the plate for the D-backs' no. 10-rated prospect that included two runs, a walk, and of course, the game-winning RBI. It was the second walk-off home run for Amarillo this season, with both coming in the month of August. Seth Beer hit a walk-off home run to beat the Corpus Christi Hooks on August 5th. It is the eighth walk off home run in Sod Poodles' history and the 23rd overall walk-off win since the start of the inaugural season. The RBI gave Vukovich 87 on the season, now just seven away from breaking the single-season RBI record by an Amarillo Sod Poodle.
THE BEER HITS DIFFERENT IN AUGUST: Seth Beer turned in a multi-hit effort, his 22nd of the season 10th over his last 21 games played in August. During the month, the lefty bat is hitting .305 (25-for-82) with six doubles, two home runs, 10 RBI, and is SLG .438 with three extra-base hits in his last five games. Beer carried over an 8-for-19 week in San Antonio by starting this series against Midland 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI, and two runs scored.
PUTS THE W IN WILL: Left-hander Will Mabrey earned the win on Tuesday after spinning 1.2 hitless innings over the tail end of the eighth and the ninth inning. He faced just four batters and struck out two of them after getting the first man he faced out of the bullpen to roll into an inning-ending double play in the eighth. Mabrey improved to 3-0 on the season and lowered his ERA in Double-A to 3.48 through his first 13 games with the Sod Poodles. He has now allowed one or fewer runs in 11-of-13 appearances and never allowed more than two runs across his 20.2 IP since a promotion from High-A Hillsboro on July 13th. Mabrey entered the game on Tuesday holding opponents to a 0.83 BAA with runners in scoring position, allowing just two hits in 28 plate appearances in high-leverage situations.
WIFF RASHI: Taylor Rashi worked a total of an inning on Tuesday night without allowing a hit and striking out three of the four batters he faced for the game. Rashi has appeared in four games for Amarillo and is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA through five innings pitched. After allowing a run on two hits in his Amarillo debut, the right-hander has worked four consecutive scoreless innings, allowing just one hit with seven strikeouts and one walk issued.
DOUBLE THE DE LOS: Another day, another Deyvison De Los Santos multi-hit game. The D-backs' no. 5-rated prospect has 29 multi-hit efforts on the season with 14 of them coming in his last 35 games played since July 14th. Post-All-Star Break, De Los Santos is hitting .313 (45-for-144) with nine doubles, eight home runs, a triple, 25 RBI, and 30 runs scored. He has hits in 30 of those 35 games since returning to the active roster with his 18 XBH during the span tied for the fourth-most in the Texas League along with Ivan Melendez and Caleb Roberts. His eight home runs are T-5th, he is 5th in total bases (80), T-5th in runs scored, 7th in hits, and 8th in SLG (.556) over his last 35 games.
PETER PITCHER: Peter Solomon had his full pitch mix working early Tuesday, making just his third start at HODGETOWN. In his last go in front of the home fans, he matched his career-high with 11 strikeouts and set the bar for an Amarillo pitcher in 2023 along the way. Against Midland on Tuesday night, he fanned 10 over his first five innings, giving him yet another double-digit strikeout performance this season. He is the only Amarillo pitcher this season with more than one 10+ strikeout game, as Luke Albright is the only other pitcher to eclipse double-digit strikeouts in a game in 2023.* Solomon is also one of just five pitchers in the Texas League with multiple 10+ strikeout games this season and one of just two who did so over a three-game stretch.* Blayne Enlow is the only other, doing so for Wichita on May 18th against Arkansas and then two starts later on May 30th against Tulsa.