FRISCO, TEXAS (May 24, 2014) - The RoughRiders dropped a close one to the Springfield Cardinals by a score of 8-6 Saturday night at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Rangers' hurler Tanner Scheppers made his first rehab start of the season in one inning of work but the bats could not close the deal in the high scoring contest.
Scheppers issued a four-pitch walk to Mike O'Neill to open the ballgame but then got Rafael Ortega to pop out to the foul territory along the warning track down the left field line. A wild pitch sent O'Neill to second but Scheppers rebounded to strike out Cody Stanley.
Curt Smith hit a rocket to shortstop Guilder Rodriguez that popped out of his glove and rolled towards the outfield grass. An alert O'Neill hustled around third and scored the unearned run giving Springfield an early 1-0 lead.
Frisco (28-20) counter punched by smacking four consecutive singles off of Cardinals starter Seth Blair to begin their offensive half of the frame. Rodriguez, Odubel Herrera, Jake Smolinski and Tomas Telis each picked up a hit and the 'Riders took a 2-1 lead. Frisco pushed it to 3-1 on a Trever Adams ground ball out to second.
Scheppers was scheduled to pitch one inning of work and gave up one hit, one unearned run, one walk and one strike out. 11 of his 21 pitches were strikes.
He was relieved by righty Kyle Lotzkar in the second and the Cardinals (23-25) mounted a rally to retake the lead from Frisco. They did so with the help of Matt Williams' line drive double to left and a Greg Miclat single to right. Herrera could not field the ball cleanly and Williams scored on the error.
Miclat stole second and third and O'Neill drew a one-walk, his second free pass of the game, to reach base. Ortega made the most of a hitter's count and drove the 3-1 pitch to right for his third triple of the season and the Cardinals took a 4-3 lead.
Frisco answered Springfield once again with a two-out rally in the same inning to give Lotzkar a boost of momentum. Jake Skole hit an infield single to second and Rodriguez walked to put the go-ahead run on base. Herrera ripped a 2 RBI double down the left field line and the 'Riders re-took the lead once again 5-4.
The RoughRiders tacked on an insurance run in the fourth on Herrera's RBI single to center which scored Skole and made it 6-4. It would not last long, however, as O'Neill began the fifth inning by singling to center and Ortega issued a souvenir to the fans sitting in the right field grass berm. Ortega's fourth homer of the year tied the contest at 6-6.
Blair pitched four innings, gave up eight hits, allowed six runs (five earned), walked two and struck out two to complete his outing.
Springfield had another opportunity to tack on more runs with runners on the corners and two outs in the fifth, but Skole dove to make a run-saving catch in centerfield to hold the Cards scoreless.
Following a perfect sixth inning for both clubs the Cardinals returned to hit in the seventh and they cashed in when it mattered most. Ortega dropped a single into shallow right center over the glove of Herrera and Stanley reached second on a single and a throwing error by Drew Robinson. Smith hit a 2 RBI single to seesaw Springfield into the lead 8-6.
Frisco scattered three hits over the course of the final three innings and the club was not able to mount anything else as Joey Donofrio nailed down the save.
The 'Riders look to take game two of the series tomorrow at 2:05 p.m. at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Alec Asher (3-4, 4.30 ERA) takes the ball for the RoughRiders and will face southpaw Kyle Hald (3-0, 2.55 ERA). For tickets to see the 'Riders in 2014, call 972-731-9200, e-mail Info@RidersBaseball.com or visit www.ridersbaseball.com.