FRISCO, TEXAS (June 28, 2014) - Frisco defeated the Northwest Arkansas Naturals 5-3 on Saturday night behind Alex Claudio's gem in his 2014 'Riders debut. Joey Gallo added to his home run total with his 29th of the year (8 with Frisco) and the 'Riders improved to 44-35.
The 'Riders were looking to establish something quickly following the series loss to Arkansas, so Ryan Strausborger accepted the challenge and got on base quickly by hitting an infield single hit to second base. He then utilized his speed to steal second and used it again by advancing to third when Naturals catcher Juan Graterol threw the ball into centerfield.
Odubel Herrera was also swinging at hot bat going into the contest and he reached first on another Arkansas error, this one being charged to second baseman Justin Trapp on his throw to first. Strausborger scored on the play and gave Frisco an early 1-0 advantage.
Frisco (4-5, 44-35) mounted more opportunities to score in the same inning by loading the bases with a Trever Adams single to center and a hit batsman, Gallo, but a 1-2-3 double play silenced the threat.
Gallo was not given an opportunity to face Naturals starter Sam Selman after the first pitch of his first at-bat hit him, but he capitalized with a bang when he got his next chance. The power hitter launched a two-run home run to right field, scoring Herrera after his double to left, and Frisco took a 3-0 lead.
Frisco's starter Claudio (1-0), making his 2014 RoughRiders debut after pitching in 17 games with Myrtle Beach, looked dominant over the course of the first five innings. The southpaw only gave up two hits in his five-shutout frames and struck out four. His command and pitch selection was on display as he threw 46 of his 56 pitches for strikes.
Selman's (3-5) outing was complete after 3.1 innings pitched, in which he issued three earned runs on five hits with two walks and three strikes out. He gave up one home run, hit two batters and threw 49 of his 84 pitches for strikes, and was replaced by righty Ali Williams.
The 'Riders used small ball to begin the sixth frame when Tomas Telis laid down a perfect bunt that stopped an inch shy of rolling foul. Williams then served up a meatball to Teodoro Martinez, who smacked his third homer of the year to give the RoughRiders a 5-0 advantage.
The Naturals (5-5, 30-50) mounted a late charge and used two walks and a long ball to climb back into the game. Graterol and Ethan Chapman drew walks to reach base, and Lane Adams sent a two-out ball packing over the left field fence to shrink the deficit to 5-3.
Keone Kela came on in relief of Reyes and retired Angel Franco with a strike out to end the eighth. The righty flamethrower then pitched a perfect ninth frame to earn his first save and send the fans home happy.
The RoughRiders look to take game two tomorrow night to secure their first series victory of the second half. Righty Alec Asher (7-6, 2.89 ERA) will man the bump for the 'Riders and he opposes fellow righty Tim Melville (1-6, 3.93 ERA). First pitch is at 6:05 p.m. on Sunday evening at Dr Pepper Ballpark. For tickets to see the 'Riders in 2014, call 972-731-9200, e-mail Info@RidersBaseball.com or visit www.ridersbaseball.com.