CORPUS CHRISTI - Jon Singleton’s 20th home run - a ninth-inning rocket which found the berm just to the right of the batter’s eye - lifted Corpus Christi past Midland 7-6 Friday night before 7,343.
The Hooks are 38-22 in second-half Texas League play. Their magic number to clinch a playoff berth is two.
The RockHounds are 25-33 and eliminated from playoff contention.
Singleton powered the first pitch of the home ninth to cap an evening in which Corpus Christi battled back from two three-run deficits. His shot made a loser of Jonathan Ortiz (4-6).
The Hooks scored three eighth-inning runs to knot the game at 6.
It was their seventh walk-off win of 2012.
Hooks shortstop Ben Orloff had three hits, as did Midland’s Anthony Aliotti and Miles Head. Corpus Christi closer Jason Stoffel dispatched three of four batters in the ninth to earn his second win.
Hooks starter Matt Heidenreich quickly retired the first two RockHounds, but Aliotti’s single and a crushed double to left-center from Matt Rizzotti staked Midland to a 1-0 lead.
Corpus Christi drew even in the second, Jacob Goebbert (double) scoring on an error by Head at third base. Sonny Gray left the bases loaded, striking out Robbie Grossman.
The RockHounds answered with three runs, including two of the unearned variety. Two walks, two errors, a Head RBI single and close tag play at the plate which went Midland’s way made for a 4-1 bulge. Hooks manager Keith Bodie was ejected protesting the call.
The Hooks threw a crooked number up in the fifth to pull within one, Grossman homering into the right-field pool area after Orloff’s lead-off single.
Heidenreich exited in the wake of Dusty Coleman’s lead-off single in the sixth. The 6-foot-5 right-hander permitted two earned runs, eight hits, three walks and struck out six.
Midland opened the lead back to three, adding two an inning later off Alex Sogard and Arcenio Leon. Head’s double and a Jeremy Barfield sacrifice fly were the drivers.
The RockHounds’ bullpen duo of Jose Guzman and Ortiz blew up during the eighth. Jay Fernandez’ one-out bases-loaded single to center tallied Singleton (single) and Drew Locke (walk) as Corpus Christi again closed to within one. Nine-hole hitter Orloff lined an RBI single into left, plating Goebbert (single) with the tying run.
Gray headed to the clubhouse up 4-3 after six. Last year’s first-round draft pick out of Vanderbilt was charged with four hits, two earned runs and fanned nine.
Aliotti has a 16-game hitting streak.
First Game: Midland 4, Corpus Christi 2
Friday’s first action was the continuation of a Thursday night game suspended after 4 ½ innings due to a power outage. Corpus Christi held a 2-0 advantage when the lights went out at 8:28.
Both teams rolled out new pitchers at 5 o’clock Friday, the Hooks replacing Rob Rasmussen with Jake Buchanan and RockHounds reliever Ian Krol subbing for Shawn Haviland.
Anthony Aliotti’s double to open the sixth morphed into the first Midland run, Matt Rizzotti credited with an RBI ground out. Buchanan (5-7) coughed up two more scores on four singles as the RockHounds moved up 3-2. Leonardo Gil and Dusty Coleman had run-scoring hits.
In the meantime, Krol (1-1) wrapped the fifth and sixth by inducing double-play balls.
Aliotti produced a bases-loaded grounder in the ninth for the final margin and Gary Daley, Jr., notched his second save by covering the final six outs. The loss was Corpus Christi’s first in six games.
Thursday night, Rasmussen pitched out of some early trouble after issuing two first-inning walks. He escaped the fix with a double-play ball off the bat of Miles Head.
The lefty went closer to the edge in the second, issuing one-out free passes to Jeremy Barfield and David Freitas. Rasmussen then uncorked a wild pitch, putting runners at second and third. He struck out Gil and benefited from Andy Simunic’s backhand gem at deep short and throw out of Coleman.
The Hooks pieced together three singles and a base-on-balls for a 2-0 lead through three. George Springer and Adam Bailey singled consecutively to launch the frame and scored on Robbie Grossman’s fielder’s choice and a Jon Singleton single, respectively.
Rasmussen dodged Rizzotti’s lead-off double and a Barfield single during the fourth by getting another twin-killing and fanning Gil again.
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The Hooks welcome San Antonio at 6:05 Saturday. The first 1,750 fans take home an Astros 1990s Navy Jersey from CITGO. Beatles tribute band The EggMen performs live postgame.