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Adolescent Answerbacks Take Series Lead

Five-Run Eighth Gives Amarillo 2-1 Series Advantage
(John Moore)
April 19, 2024

AMARILLO, Texas (April 18, 2024) – In a matchup where the starting pitchers combined to allow just six combined hits and one run working into the sixth inning, Amarillo needed a late-inning comeback to secure a series lead over the visiting Springfield Cardinals. After seeing the Cardinals take their first

AMARILLO, Texas (April 18, 2024) – In a matchup where the starting pitchers combined to allow just six combined hits and one run working into the sixth inning, Amarillo needed a late-inning comeback to secure a series lead over the visiting Springfield Cardinals. After seeing the Cardinals take their first lead in the sixth, Amarillo used a five-run bottom of the eighth en route to the 6-3 win on Thursday night at HODGETOWN.

Neyfy Castillo gave Amarillo their first hit of the night against Tink Hence, the Cardinals' top-rated prospect with a two-out double in the bottom of the second inning. Castillo was left stranded following his first two-bagger of the year. Wilderd Patiño provided the Sod Poodles their next chance to break through Hence with a two-out single in the bottom of the third. A pop fly to end the inning kept the game scoreless through the first three innings. Deyvison De Los Santos didn't wait for two outs in the bottom of the fourth. Instead, the D-backs no. 14-rated prospect jumped on an 0-1 fastball and sent it to the right-field berm for his fourth home run of the season and a 1-0 Sod Poodles lead.

Navigating the first four innings with just a hit allowed against the Texas League's most potent offense through 11 games, RHP Luke Albright found himself in his first real jam in the top of the fifth. Allowing the first two batters he faced to reach base, a groundout pushed both runners into scoring position. The Amarillo right-hander struck out his third batter of the game and induced a grounder to escape the inning with the narrow lead still intact.

A Springfield one-out walk in the top of the sixth turned into a runner on third following a stolen base and wild pitch. S.P. Chen did his best to corral a rocket to second base but having to pirouette and throw home, it was a little too late to cut down the tying run from crossing the plate. Losing the shutout, and 87 pitches in, Albright's night toeing the rubber came to an end. Left-hander Will Mabrey took over and inherited the runner at first after Chen's unsuccessful fielder's choice. Mabrey's first hit allowed this season put runners on the corners with the second errant pitch of the inning resulting in the Cardinals taking the lead. Mabrey earned a pair of strikeouts but not before another two hits aided in providing Springfield a 3-1 advantage.

Following a Tim Tawa walk to leadoff the bottom of the sixth and a deep flyout to left-center, Hence's night came to an end after 5.1 IP. He allowed four hits and just the one run to go with six strikeouts and the lone walk. Consecutive strikeouts dealt by Nick Raquet helped to strand Tawa after he advanced to second on a balk.

Mabrey's outing lasted just two-thirds of an inning with Conor Grammes taking over in the top of the seventh. A leadoff double was no sweat for the right-hander who retired each of the next three he faced to keep it at 3-1. Amarillo got another runner aboard in the home half but it once again came with two outs and nothing came of the opportunity.

Springfield loaded the bases in the top of the eighth without a hit and just one away in the inning. The second out came on Tawa's decision to force the out at home and keep it at a two-run Amarillo deficit. The decision paid off with Mitchell Stumpo striking out Bryan Torres to strand the bases loaded.

Patiño started a Sod Poodles late rally with a bunt single. His speed led to an error and the Amarillo leadoff man standing on second base. A.J. Vukovich scored him with a RBI single to make it a one-run contest. De Los Santos followed Vukovich aboard with a single of his own before Kevin Graham wore one off the foot to load the bases. Castillo then drew a walk to bring the game even.

A pitching change and a strikeout later, Logan Warmoth drew the second bases-loaded walk of the inning to put the Sod Poodles back in front. Chen provided the Sod Poodles with some much-needed insurance driving in a pair of runners with a RBI single to make it a 6-3 lead.

Stumpo saw the first two batters in the top of the ninth single to send the potential tying run to the plate. He earned his second strikeout of the game and backed it up by inducing a tailor-made double play ball to secure the comeback victory and a series lead.

After facing the Cardinals top-rated prospect on Thursday, the Sod Poodles will face Tekoah Roby (1-0, 6.30 ERA), who checks in as the no. 2-rated prospect in the St. Louis system on Friday. Amarillo will trot out RHP Yilber Diaz (0-2, 5.79 ERA), who is currently ranked as the no. 16-rated prospect for the D-backs. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.


ALBRIGHT, ALBRIGHT, ALBRIGHT: Luke Albright worked his longest outing of the season with 5.1 IP on Thursday evening. It was also the longest start by an Amarillo pitcher through the first 12 games of the 2024 campaign. After allowing 12 hits and as many runs through his first 6.0 IP of the season, Albright allowed only two hits but was on the wrong end of two runs charged to him. The former Kent State product now sits on 60 career starts after being selected in the 6th round of the 2021 MLB Draft. Through his 60th start, Albright owns a 16-16 record and a 5.55 ERA in just under 270 career innings. He is two strikeouts shy of his 300th for his minor league career and set a single-season career-high with 136 punchouts over 25 starts for Amarillo a season ago to finish with the fifth most strikeouts in the D-backs organization.

ADIOS, PELOTA: Deyvison De Los Santos hit a 105 mph rocket that was launched just high enough to get over the short porch in right field for his fourth homer of the season. The D-backs no. 14-rated prospect now sits in a three-way tie for the league lead in home runs along with Midland's Colby Thomas and Wichita's Emmanuel Rodriguez. The 20-year-old infield prospect is tied for second in the Texas League after Thursday in XBH with seven and is also tied for second in runs scored with 12. His 33 total bases lead the league and his 17 hits are tied for the most along with Wilderd Patiño. His solo blast in the fourth inning helped to put him in a tie for 6th in the league with nine RBI. He also ranks inside the top 10 in the Texas League in AVG (T-6th, .354), SLG (3rd, .688), and OPS (3rd, 1.092).

OUR RBI KING: A.J. Vukovich made it five straight games with a hit after picking up an eighth-inning RBI single to finish the game 1-for-4. It was Vukovich's 12th RBI of the season, placing him in a tie for the league lead in RBI alongside Springfield's R.J. Yeager who had the day off on Thursday. After setting Amarillo's single-season RBI record last year with 96, the D-backs no. 15-rated prospect is now up to 117 RBI in 137 games played while donning a Sod Poodles uniform since the end of the 2022 season. His 117 RBI for his Amarillo career are 18 clear of Tim Tawa for the most in franchise history. His now five-game hit streak gives him a hit in nine of the 11 games he has played so far this year. The former 4th round pick is hitting .341 (14-for-41) with three homers, a double, six runs, and four walks to go along with his team-leading 12 RBI.

COLLECTING HITS LIKE INFINITY STONES: With another multi-hit effort on Thursday night, Sod Poodles outfielder Wilderd Patiño is up to 17 hits in 2024, tied with Deyvison De Los Santos for the most in the Texas League. Getting his first crack at Double-A this season, Patiño is hitting .354 (17-for-48) with three doubles, a home run, and eight runs scored. He has a multi-hit effort in five of his first 11 games in Double-A and sits in a tie for sixth in the league along with De Los Santos.

STUMPED BY GRAM: Following one another out of the Amarillo bullpen on Thursday night, right-handers Conor Grammes and Mitchell Stumpo each extended their run of games without an earned run charged to their names. For Stumpo, he earned his first win of the year after slamming the door on the Cardinals with a bases-loaded strikeout in the top of the eighth and then worked around a pair of runners in the top of the ninth with the potential tying run at the plate. His streak of games without an earned run allowed is now up to five games, tied for the most in the Texas League. He has worked a total of 6.2 IP with five hits surrendered and seven strikeouts to just two walks. His first win of the season is his first since May 31, 2023, when he also got a win against the Springfield Cardinals at HODGETOWN. Grammes lowered his season ERA to 1.59 in over 5.2 IP in five appearances. His scoreless appearance Thursday makes it four straight which is tied for the second most in the League so far. Over his last 4.2 IP, he has allowed just one hit.

ADOLESCENT ANSWERBACKS: The two-run sixth-inning deficit Amarillo overcame to earn their fourth win of the season is the first win after trailing after the sixth inning this year. The club was 0-8 when heading into Thursday night.

SOMETHING S.P.ECIAL BREWING: After bases-loaded walks tied and gave Amarillo the lead in the eighth, S.P. Chen provided the late-inning insurance runs. His two-RBI single gave him his third multi-RBI game in 23 games played for Amarillo over the last two seasons.