MIDLAND, TEXAS (MAY 15, 2014) - The Frisco RoughRiders' bullpen allowed seven runs over the final five innings and choked away its second consecutive game as the 'Riders dropped an 11-inning contest to the Midland RockHounds by an 11-10 final on Thursday night at Security Bank Ballpark.
The death knell sounded in muted fashion when Hiroyuki Nakajima drew a bases loaded walk with no outs from Frisco's Jon Edwards. The affair lasted four hours and twenty-three minutes, the longest of the season for the RoughRiders.
Edwards (1-2) suffered the loss after he failed to record an out in four batters faced in the 11th. He surrendered two hits and two walks.
Ryan Doolittle (1-2) earned his first win of the season. He shut out the 'Riders over the final 1 1/3 innings and allowed a pair of hits with two strikeouts.
With the loss, Frisco (25-15) sees its lead atop the Texas League South Division shrink to two games. The bullpen has blown four separate leads in the past two games.
Midland (23-17) salvages a series split with the RoughRiders and ties Frisco for most home wins this season with 14.
The 'Riders led 6-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning, 7-6 in the bottom of the ninth and 10-7 in the bottom of the tenth. Like a zombie, the RockHounds refused to die.
No lead could feel safe after Midland's comeback Wednesday night, and true to form, the Hounds staged multiple rallies on Thursday.
RoughRiders' starter Edwar Cabrera exited the game with one out in the seventh and property on first and second. His replacement, Keone Kela, conceded a sharp line-drive double to Dusty Coleman that brought home a run and made the ballgame 6-3.
Kela proceeded to walk Blake Forsythe load the bases. After the 'Riders threw out Marte on a fielder's choice force at home, Kela dissolved and allowed consecutive walks, each of which scored a run.
Cabrera's final line read 6 1/3 innings pitched with five hits, four runs (three earned), two walks and six strikeouts. He left in line for the win, and deservedly so, but the changeup specialist will have to wait for his second win of the season.
With the lead abruptly cut to 6-5, Jason Wood ambled to the mound for the second time in the inning and called out Francisco Mendoza.
The righty from the Dominican Republic stemmed the hemorrhaging with a fly ball to right, but the RockHounds batted around the horn in the frame to intensify the contest.
Midland tallied two base hits, but drew four walks in the disastrous seventh for Frisco.
The Hounds completed their first comeback in the subsequent inning. Mendoza faced four batters in the eighth, but the one base hit he allowed went in the book as a solo home run to Jefry Marte.
The RoughRiders' offense attempted to rescue their beleaguered bullpen. Drew Robinson led off the ninth with a triple and Jake Smolinski ensured his teammate scored on a sacrifice fly to left.
Tasked with the protecting another lead, the 'pen faltered once again. In the bottom of the ninth, Wilmer Font allowed a leadoff solo home run to Forsythe and the score evened again, this time at seven.
The pendulum swung back to the 'Riders in the top of the tenth, and the visitors tried to put the hammer down on the Hounds.
Teodoro Martinez answered the bell when he drove in his third run of the game on a single to right. With the bases loaded with two outs, and still in search of insurance, Patrick Cantwell delivered with a base hit on the infield.
A bad throw home by first baseman Anthony Aliotti and two runs scored to give the 'Riders a 10-7 lead. It marked the second time in as many games an infield single scored multiple runs for Frisco.
Font returned for the tenth and picked up the first two outs, but left with two men on base via a walk and a single.
In came Ryan Bores to pitch for the second consecutive night. In identical cadence with Bores' outing on Wednesday, the right-hander hit the first batter he faced with a pitch.
With the bases now loaded, Bores could still not settle down and secure one out to win the ballgame.
A walk to Forsythe scored a run to make the score 10-8 Frisco. Billy Burns, the walk-off hero in the penultimate game in the series, stepped up and the speedster delivered against Bores for the second straight night with a double on the left field line. Two runs scored to knot the scoreboard at ten.
After the 'Riders went scoreless, a sense of inevitability loomed as Edwards and the defense took the field for the bottom of the 11th.
In the second game of the series, a pair Midland miscues led to four unearned runs for the RoughRiders. On Thursday, the 'Riders again proved opportunistic and capitalized on an error to open the scoring.
Tomás Telis reached first to start the second inning on an error by Marte, the Midland third baseman.
Ryan Rua smoked his first triple of the season on a deep drive to right-center and Telis scored the RoughRiders' fifth unearned run of the series to give his team a 1-0 lead.
Rua later scored on an RBI single from Martinez to extend the early advantage to 2-0. Martinez drove a run home in every game of the series.
Midland answered with an unearned run of its own in the bottom of the second. After Kent Matthes doubled to left, the Midland left fielder took third on a passed ball, which allowed him to score on a sacrifice fly to center by Nakajima.
Matthes would not have been in position to score were it not for the passed ball on Cantwell and the RockHounds did not place another runner on the bases in the second.
The RoughRiders continued to chip away at Werner the starter and their efforts translated to runs in the fifth.
Guilder Rodriguez doubled in his first game with the RoughRiders since April 24 to greet the inning. He touched home shortly thereafter when Robinson delivered his fourth home run of the season to put Frisco up 4-2.
It was Robinson's first home run in 20 games and 72 at-bats.
With offensive momentum on their side, the 'Riders rolled into the sixth. Rua doubled for his third base hit of the night and after Herrera grounded out, Murphy Smith entered the game to pitch for Midland in relief of Werner.
The Venezuelan duo of Martinez and Rodrigues each registered base knocks against Smith to keep the inning alive and push the RoughRiders' lead to 6-2.
Frisco's road trip continues in San Antonio with a four-game set against the Missions. Game one is scheduled for Friday at 7:05 p.m. Coverage begins at 6:40 p.m. on www.ridersbaseball.com with the Frisco RoughRiders Pregame Show.
The 'Riders return to Dr Pepper Ballpark on Wednesday, May 21 to begin a three-game series with the Tulsa Drillers. For tickets to see the 'Riders in 2014, call 972-731-9200, e-mail Info@RidersBaseball.com or visit www.ridersbaseball.com.