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Smith Sends the 'Riders Back Empty
Walk-off home run knots the series
08/14/2014 12:41 AM ET

SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI (AUGUST 13, 2014) - Curt Smith turned on a 1-1 pitch from Martire Garcia and sent it out of the yard in the bottom of the 11th inning to rocket Springfield to a 2-1 walk-off win over the Frisco RoughRiders on Wednesday night at Hammons Field.

The home run was Smith's ninth of the season and the first run allowed by Garcia (1-1) as a RoughRider in over 18 innings.

Frisco tied the game in the eighth inning, but left two runners aboard in the frame. They proved to be desperately needed as Joey Donofrio (3-3) blanked the RoughRiders over the final three frames to earn the win. Donofrio retired all nine batters he faced and tallied four strikeouts.

With the loss, Frisco (70-51; 30-22) snaps a three-game win streak and falls to 2-4 in extra-inning affairs. The 'Riders will have to win Thursday's rubber match against Springfield to split the season series at six wins apiece.  

Springfield (56-65; 22-29) is now 3-2 at home against the RoughRiders this season.

Pitching controlled the storyline for much of the game. Springfield starter Kurt Heyer allowed a pair of Frisco baserunners in the first inning, but ended the frame on a Joey Gallo strikeout and proceeded to retire 11 straight batters.

The RoughRiders missed a chance to score in the fifth off Heyer and the Double-A redbirds. With runners on first and second and two outs, Guilder Rodriguez reached first on an infield single to second base. However, the Cardinals caught Nomar Mazara in a pickle between third and home and the run column remained empty.

Jerad Eickhoff turned in a strong outing as he sought to avenge his loss to Springfield on August 7. The right-hander from Evansville, Indiana, who grew up a St. Louis Cardinals fan, retired the first nine batters of the ballgame.

A leadoff walk to Patrick Wisdom in the fifth proved costly as Wisdom scored on an RBI single by David Popkins to give Springfield a 1-0 lead.

Run support for Eickhoff proved scant. After the fifth, the RoughRiders stranded Jorge Alfaro on third when reliever Lee Stoppelman struck out Gallo.

With outs at a premium, the 'Riders mounted a charge against flame-thrower Sam Tuivailala in the eighth. Rodriguez singled up the middle to begin the rally. Tuivailala then struck Alfaro with a pitch and a successful bunt by Odubel Herrera loaded the bases with nobody down.

Trever Adams struck out on a breaking ball to bring Gallo to the dish. While the slugger did not drive in a run, a two-strike offering from Tuivalala bit the dust and skipped away from Springfield catcher Travis Tartamella. Rodriguez raced home to tie the game at 1-1.

Springfield looked to be in good position to end the game in the bottom of the ninth when speedy Rafael Ortega singled to open the frame. Reliever Erik Hamren, in his first action off the disabled list since July 24, chucked a wild pitch of his own to move Ortega up to second.

But Hamren buckled down and retired the next two batters on strikes. The 'Riders intentionally walked Popkins to set up a force at two bases and Tartamella hit right into the trap to send the game to extras.

The 'Riders and Cards square off for the final time in 2014 on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. from Hammons Field. Coverage begins with the Frisco RoughRiders Pregame Show at 6:45 p.m. on www.ridersbaseball.com. For tickets to see the 'Riders in 2014, call 972-731-9200, e-mail Info@RidersBaseball.com or visit www.ridersbaseball.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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