NORTH LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (APRIL 14, 2014) - In their third doubleheader in 11 games, Frisco took a pair of one-run contests from the Arkansas Travelers on Monday night with a 5-4 victory in the first half of the twin bill and a 2-1 triumph in the second.
A chilly, dreary day on the shores of the Arkansas River did not present ideal weather conditions for the two seven-inning matchups, but the RoughRiders stayed hot regardless to win their sixth straight game and second consecutive series on the road.
One week after the Travelers swept Frisco in a doubleheader at Dr Pepper Ballpark, the 'Riders returned the favor and swept Arkansas at Dickey-Stephens Field.
Once again, the 'Riders raced out to a fast start at the plate, and for the fifth consecutive time, the team's first run came with two outs in the inning. With Jordan Brown on second base, Jake Smolinski cracked the first triple of the season for Frisco and put the road team up 1-0 in game one.
Lefty Matt Harrison made his second rehab appearance of the season against the Travelers. Harrison hopes to rejoin the big league rotation later this month and pitched well against Arkansas on April 8.
Beneath overcast skies and temperatures in the high 40s, Harrison faced a bases loaded situation with nobody out in the first. Although Shawn O'Malley scored the tying run for the Travs, it came on a double play ball off the bat of Zach Borenstein. Harrison proceeded to fan Anderson De La Rosa on a curveball to escape the frame with a runner stranded on third and the score still tied.
The Travs ran Harrison's pitch count high; he tossed over 50 pitches through the first two innings. The North Carolinian allowed a leadoff runner in each inning of work, and left the game with one out in the fourth and the RoughRiders behind 3-1 on the scoreboard.
Arkansas broke the 1-1 tie on a two-out RBI single by Jimmy Swift in the bottom of the third. Alex Yarbrough tallied the unearned run, scored as such because of a fielding error earlier in the inning by 'Riders second baseman Rougned Odor.
One inning later, Eric Stamets drove in the Travelers' third run of the game on a single with nobody out. Harrison faced one final batter and exited with six hits and three runs allowed (two earned) over 3 1/3 inning. He allowed three walks and struck out two.
The 'Riders opened the fifth inning strong with back-to-back bunt singles from Patrick Cantwell and Luis Sardinas, respectively. After an Odor strikeout, starting pitcher Yeiper Castillo walked Brown to load the bases with one out. Castillo's night was over when he walked Smolinski one batter later. Smolinski picked up his second RBI of the game as Cantwell walked home from third to make a 3-2 game in favor of Arkansas.
The weather appeared to impact Arkansas reliever Carmine Giardina (0-1) as he tried to settle in on the mound in the fifth. Sardinas capitalized on a wild pitch from Giardina and tied the game at 3-3 when he raced home from third. The 6-foot-3 righty soon recovered and picked up the final two outs of the frame on strikeouts as the 'Riders left the bases full.
However, when Giardina filled the bases with 'Riders in the sixth inning, Travelers skipper Phillip Wellman called right-hander Michael Brady out of the bullpen. Like his predecessor on the hill, Brady struggled to find his groove and surrendered back-to-back walks with the bases loaded. Smolinski picked up his second RBI walk of the game as the 'Riders took a 5-3 lead, their largest of the game.
The Travs made a late charge with righty Wilmer Font on the mound for Frisco. The Venezuelan walked O'Malley to put three men on with just one out. Font's next batter faced, Yarbrough, plated a run on a fielder's choice groundball that made it a one-run game once again.
With the score at 5-4, Font stranded runners at the corners when he struck out Michael Snyder and preserved the Frisco lead. One inning later, the 'Riders inserted Matt West as their fourth pitcher of the game to finish off the Travelers. The right-hander struck out two and walked one out of four batters faced and earned his first save of the season.
The 'Riders won their fifth straight game, but there was little time to celebrate as game two in the twin bill tipped off about 40 minutes after the conclusion of the first installment.
Like the opener, game two was slated for seven innings. In contrast, the pace of the nightcap increased precipitously in comparison to its earlier counterpart, which lasted over three hours from first pitch to final out. The temperature dropped as well, down to 42 degrees when game two began.
Jerad Eickhoff (1-0) took the ball in the second game for the RoughRiders and allowed a leadoff double to Kyle Hudson a few minutes past 10 p.m. to open the ballgame.
Two batters later, Yarbrough lofted a fly ball to center field for his second RBI of the night (but first of the game) on a sacrifice fly. Hudson, who had advanced to third previously on a sacrifice grounder, scored the game's first run and Arkansas took a late 1-0 lead.
But Frisco proved they, too, can play late-night baseball. In the top of the second, the 'Riders loaded the bases with one out thanks to a pair of walks on either side of a Trever Adams single.
Tomás Telis ripped a double off Travelers starter Mark Sappington (0-2) to drive in his first two runs of the season and put the RoughRiders on top 2-1.
The 2-1 score stuck the rest of the way. Each team threw two arms apiece in game two and struck out a combined 21 batters. Despite eight strikeouts over four innings, Sappington suffered the loss, his second of the season against the RoughRiders.
Eickhoff recorded his first win of the season with an eight-strikeout performance of his own over five innings. The native of Indiana surrendered just one hit, one run and fanned eight in a game for the third time in his career.
The second game of the doubleheader lasted one hour and 57 minutes, over one hour shorter than the first game. The final out was recorded two minutes prior to midnight in the Central Time Zone.
With the pair of wins, Frisco pushed its winning streak to six games. In doing so, the 'Riders sent the Travelers to their first series loss in 2014. The team is undefeated on the road this season and has yet to lose in the Natural State. The RoughRiders are also 3-3 through three doubleheaders this season. They split the first, lost both games in the second and won both games in the third.
The RoughRiders wrap up their series with the Travlers-and their first road trip of the 2014 season-on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. Coverage from Dickey-Stephens Park begins live on www.ridersbaseball.com at 6:50 p.m. with the Frisco RoughRiders Pregame Show. After a day off on Wednesday, the 'Riders return to Dr Pepper Ballpark on Thursday, April 17 at 7:05 p.m. to start a four-game series with Corpus Christi. It will be the Hooks' first trip to Frisco this season and it begins an eight-game homestand for the RoughRiders. For tickets to see the 'Riders in 2014, call 972-731-9200, e-mail Info@RidersBaseball.com or visit www.ridersbaseball.com.