FRISCO, TEXAS (July 27, 2014) - The long ball was in full effect Sunday night as the RoughRiders blasted their way to a 12-4 victory against the Missions at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
Jerad Eickhoff (8-7) received plenty of help from his offense as the fans got their money's worth. J.T. Wise and Odubel Herrera each notched their second homer of the year while Joey Gallo homered for the fifth time in the last six days. These three combined to drive in six of Frisco's 12 runs on the night. The 'Riders (21-16, 61-45) have now won eight of their last ten, staying atop the overall standings in the Texas League.
The Missions (18-19, 54-53) dropped the final three matchups of this series after winning their previous five games. Starter Bryce Morrow (3-3) never found his touch, giving up two runs in each of the first three innings.
Eickhoff went to work right away with three consecutive strikes to take down leadoff batter Cory Spangenberg swinging. He faced some trouble, though, with the next handful of Missions players. Next batter Casey McElroy hobbled to first after being hit on the first pitch of the at-bat and Alex Dickerson singled to right to put runners on the corners. Hunter Renfroe brought everyone home with his fourth home run of the season. Prior to that bomb, the outfielder was 1-for-12 in this series.
In the bottom of the first, the 'Riders matched the Missions with a multi-run homer of their own thanks to Wise going yard for the second time in this series, cutting the deficit to 3-2. The former independent pro ball player smacked a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning Friday night.
Frisco sustained its momentum in the next frame with effective baserunning. Teodoro Martinez started things off with a soft line-drive single. Martinez then got a jump on a Drew Robinson groundout and advanced to third after Hanser Alberto singled to left field. Right as leftfielder Yeison Asencio began his motion to toss it to third base, Alberto sprinted to second and beat out the throw. Jake Skole picked up an RBI sacrifice fly to advance both runners, and Guilder Rodriguez tacked on another run with a single to right field, making the score 4-3.
The 'Riders have a powerful 1-2 punch when Wise and Gallo go to the plate back-to-back and the latter quickly joined Wise in the home run show. Patrick Cantwell earned a ground-rule double to start the third inning, and Gallo hammered an opposite-field shot to give the 20-year-old lefty his pro-ball leading 36th homer of the year and increase Frisco's lead to 6-3. Morrow couldn't last more than these three innings, giving up six runs on seven hits and striking out one batter.
Herrera, who was making his first start of the season in left field, had no trouble against reliever John Hussey in the fifth. The 5-foot-11 Venezuelan sent one on a rope to net his second homer of the year and the team's third two-run home run of the game.
The Missions found their way back on the scoreboard in the sixth after failing to score in the previous four innings. Dickerson doubled on a sharp line to left field for his second hit of the night and Renfroe followed that up with a hit of his own, in the form of a ground-ball single. An RBI groundout from Austin Hedges brought Dickerson home and cut the deficit to 8-4. After walking Robert Kral and receiving a coaching visit from pitching coach Jeff Andrews, Eickhoff settled down and struck out two consecutive batters swinging to escape the inning and stranding two men on base.
Eickhoff would leave after these two strikeouts, going six complete innings. The righty starter allowed four runs on six hits while taking down nine on strikes and walking two. Ryan Rodebaugh relieved Eickhoff in the seventh but labored during his time on the mound, tossing 18 pitches and only retiring one batter.
Martire Garcia entered the game with two men on and only one out. The Dominican received some luck of the bat after Dickerson fired one right into Asencio at first for the second out, essentially replacing his teammate at first base. Garcia closed out the inning by striking out Renfroe and keeping the Missions off the board in the seventh. The crafty lefty then efficiently mowed down three consecutive batters for a 1-2-3 eighth inning.
Before Garcia pitched in the eighth, though, the 'Riders provided a little more cushioning. Rodriguez singled, stole second with Cantwell at bat and advanced to third as Missions catcher Hedges threw the ball past second baseman Spangenberg. Herrera drove in the veteran infielder for his third RBI of the night and to extend the lead to 9-4.
The 'Riders opened the floodgates in the bottom of the eighth when facing Missions pitcher Frank Garces. The lefty couldn't find the strike zone, walking his first two batters and hitting Alberto to load the bases. Cantwell lined a two-RBI single to center field and brought home all three due to a throwing error by Renfroe.
Francisco Mendoza toed the rubber in the ninth and easily took care of business to end the series on a high note.
The RoughRiders begin a new series with the Midland RockHounds Monday at 7:05 p.m. at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Lefty Andrew Faulkner will make his Frisco debut against right-hander Shawn Haviland (5-6, 3.67 ERA). For tickets to see the 'Riders in 2014, call 972-731-9200, e-mail Info@RidersBaseball.com or visit www.ridersbaseball.com.