CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS (JUNE 13, 2014) - A wild pinch unleashed by Francisco Mendoza in the bottom of the 11th inning scored Rene Garcia from third base and gave the Corpus Christi Hooks a 4-3 win over the Frisco RoughRiders on Friday night at Whataburger Field.
Despite the loss, the RoughRiders (39-27) clinched their eighth postseason berth in franchise history because the Midland RockHounds (36-31) lost a 9-1 decision to the San Antonio Missions. With three games remaining in the first half, Frisco holds a 3 1/2 game lead in the Texas League South Division standings.
Corpus Christi (33-34) moves to 8-1 in extra inning contests this season and takes a 2-1 edge in the four-game series.
In contrast, the 'Riders have yet to win an extended game this season in three tries.
Mendoza (2-1) pitched the final 2 2/3 innings for the RoughRiders and suffered both a loss and a blown save.
The 'Riders carried a 3-2 lead into the ninth inning, but a solo home run by Leo Heras with one out drew the Hooks even.
Heras has been a thorn in the RoughRiders' side all year. He finished the night 2-for-3 with a run scored, a home run, three RBI, a walk, a hit-by-pitch and a stolen base. The native of Tijuana, Mexico has clubbed both of his home runs this season against the 'Riders.
Although Mendoza retired the side in order in the tenth, he walked Heras with one out in the 11th to put the winning run on base.
Garcia then replaced Heras on the bases when he grounded into a fielder's choice for the second out of the frame.
Mendoza could not close out the Hooks, however, as a right-field single by Carlos Perdomo advanced Garcia 90 feet away from home. On a 2-1 count to Jio Mier, Mendoza's offering evaded the block attempt of catcher Tomás Telis and Garcia darted home.
Travis Ballew (4-1) earned the win. Ballew pitched both extra innings for the Hooks and allowed one hit and one walk to the RoughRiders.
The righty struck out four over his two innings. Frisco moved runners to second and third with one out in the 11th, but Ballew struck out consecutive batters to uphold the dead heat.
As a staff, the Hooks struck out the RoughRiders 18 times, a season-high for Frisco.
For the third time in as many games, Corpus Christi opened the scoring. Eickhoff allowed his first base hit of the game on an infield single by Ruben Sosa in the fourth inning.
Two batters later, Eickhoff walked Andrew Aplin to put runners on first and second with one out. After a popout from Jonathan Meyer, the 'Riders stood one out away from the dugout, but could not maintain the scoreless tie.
Heras sent a sharp groundball to Ryan Rua at first base, but the ball took a hard hop off Rua's glove and into right field. Both runners scored for the Hooks, who took a 2-0 lead for the second straight night.
The 'Riders stayed largely quiet offensively until the eighth. With two outs on the board and runners on first and second, Joey Gallo sent a high fly ball to left field. The wind blowing at 21-mph in that same direction, cowhide left the park and gave the 'Riders a 3-2 lead.
Gallo now has four home runs in five games with the RoughRiders and his 25 home runs on the season lead all of Minor League Baseball.
All three of the runs scored on Gallo's long ball were unearned. Earlier in the eighth, Jake Smolinski reached with two outs on a throwing error by third baseman Jonathan Meyer to keep the inning alive.
Frisco concludes its four-game series with Corpus Christi on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. Coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. on www.ridersbaseball.com with the Frisco RoughRiders Pregame Show.
The 'Riders next play at Dr Pepper Ballpark on Wednesday, June 25 against the Arkansas Travelers at 7:05 p.m. For tickets to see the 'Riders in 2014, call 972-731-9200, e-mail Info@RidersBaseball.com or visit www.ridersbaseball.com.