Pair of One-Inning Plays Lead to Series Divide – The Madison Record
BIRMINGHAM – In a hotly contested pair of games, the Rocket City Trash Pandas rebounded from a 3-2 loss in the opener to an 8-7 win in extra innings to win a division of their double with the Birmingham Barons on Sunday after -midday at Regions Domaine.
The Trash Pandas’ victory in Game 2 saw them part ways from the six-game series on their maiden trip to Birmingham.
The Barons struck first in the Romy Gonzalez home run game opener against Trash Pandas starter Kyle Tyler. The Barons got a second run on a RBI single through Craig Dedelow’s cross. Birmingham looked to open the game early by charging in for goals with one out. But Tyler induced a double playing field from JJ Muno to keep the deficit to two points.
Tyler settled in after the first, working around two singles and a step to get through the second unharmed. He pulled the team out to keep the deficit at two in third and fourth before another pair of Barons runners was left on base in fifth.
Rocket City finally broke through in the sixth as Torii Hunter Jr. hit a walk. Luis Aviles Jr. followed with an opposite two-run homerun that stayed just inside the right-field foul post to tie the game 2-2. The home run is the eighth of the season for Aviles.
At the bottom of the frame, Tyler again worked around a walk and a single to keep the game tied after six. In a quality start, Tyler allowed two runs on nine hits with three walks and six strikeouts in 6.0 innings.
But in the seventh, Micker Adolfo gave the Barons the 3-2 victory on a scoreless home run to leave Rocket City reliever Oliver Ortega (L, 2-3).
In Game 2, the Trash Pandas used the long ball to take the lead over Michael Cruz’s sixth homer of the season, a solo shot 408 feet down midfield early in the second.
Tyler Neslony tied the game for the Barons with a solo home run in the third quarter from Trash Pandas starter Cooper Criswell. Joel Booker gave Birmingham a 2-1 lead after four with an RBI brace down center.
Rocket City collected the points and more at the top of the fifth. Mitch Nay started with a walk, Cruz chose and Ray-Patrick Didder also walked to load the goals. Two hitters later, Aviles Jr. tied the game with a left single. David MacKinnon then hit a slow ground ball on the infield and was first sent off, allowing Cruz to go home with the go-ahead. Orlando Martinez topped the scoring with a double sideline down the center-right for a 5-2 lead for the Trash Pandas.
The teams traded points to make it a 6-3 game until the end of the sixth. Criswell left the line for a win after allowing three runs, two earned, on eight walks with one walk and seven strikeouts in 5.0 innings. But the Barons scored three points on relievers Ryan Clark and Adrian Almeida to tie the game 6-6 after six.
Almeida and Nathan Bates combined to pitch a clear seventh, sending the game to extra innings.
In the eighth, the Trash Pandas rallied for a pair of no-hitting points. A wild throw and a passed ball allowed Cruz to mark the green light. Hunter Jr. then hit a pitch error, allowing Didder to come back from second place with a key insurance run.
Connor Higgins came in for the Trash Pandas in the bottom of the eighth and allowed the automatic runner to score on a Gonzalez field. Higgins (S, 6) then ended the game by striking out Jameson Fisher to give the Trash Pandas the thrilling victory and earn the save.
Bates (W, 3-0) took the win with the last two strikeouts at the end of the seventh. Cruz led the way at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a homer, two walks and three runs scored while Martinez also led a pair in the series final.
The Trash Pandas (31-33) return home to start a six-game series with the Tennessee Smokies on Tuesday night. The first pitch at Toyota Field is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Josh Caray will be on call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio. The game will also be broadcast locally on WAAY-31.6, This TV.