Amarillo, Texas (September 19, 2023) – Game one of the Texas League South Division Championship Series was one for the ages at HODGETOWN. After battling back from down five, the Sod Poodles tied the game in the sixth, traded runs late, and were on the short end of nine combined
Amarillo, Texas (September 19, 2023) – Game one of the Texas League South Division Championship Series was one for the ages at HODGETOWN. After battling back from down five, the Sod Poodles tied the game in the sixth, traded runs late, and were on the short end of nine combined runs in extras, falling to the Missions 12-11 on Tuesday night.
Getting the ball in game one, Dylan Ray saw three Missions hits come against him in the top of the first. Following a strikeout, a one-out double and two-out, two-run home run put San Antonio up by a pair. Ray then caught a runner in between first and second for the final out of the inning. Amarillo managed a trio of base runners but was unable to cut into the deficit after their first trip to the plate, leaving a pair stranded.
San Antonio added one more in the second via a solo home run off the bat of Homer Bush Jr. Ray was helped out by a couple of lineouts in the inning to limit the damage to just one in the frame and keep it at 3-0 Missions lead. Deyvison De Los Santos started the home half of the first with a single and moved into scoring position as Jancarlos Cintron laced a two-out single into right field. Both were left on base after San Antonio's Robby Snelling induced a chopper to get through his second inning of work unscathed. A couple of two-out hits by the Missions in the third, one being Nathan Martorella's second two-run home run of the night pushed the San Antonio lead to 5-0.
Tim Tawa got the Sod Poodles on the board in game one with his first home run of the playoffs. He took Snelling's 2-1 offering to straight away center field. Seth Beer just missed out on an opposite-field home run as Snelling got through the third with just Tawa's long ball coming against him. Cole Cummings made it four straight innings with a run for San Antonio as he hit a solo home run off Ray. A two-out single later in the top of the fourth brought an end to Ray's night as Conor Grammes was the first reliever used by either side on Tuesday night. Grammes left two Missions on base to get out of the inning and a 6-1 Amarillo deficit.
Neyfy Castillo drew a one-out walk to send Kristian Robinson to the plate for the Soddies in the fourth. The D-backs' no. 11-rated prospect cut the deficit in half with a two-run opposite-field home run to put some life back into the stadium. A couple of singles followed the home run, however, Amarillo was not able to chip further away as it stayed 6-3. In his first full inning of work, Grammes worked a 1-2-3 frame including picking up his first two strikeouts in relief of Ray. De Los Santos tripled with two away in the bottom of the fifth but a hard lineout to the right-fielder ensured that Raul Brito would keep it at a three-run game through the first five innings.
Left-hander Jake Rice worked around a one-out walk with the help of an unreal double play started by Camden Duzenack. The shortstop dove to his left and flipped the ball behind his back to Cintron who tossed it to first to complete the twin killing. Cintron then doubled to right field as he came up to bat in the bottom of the sixth. Tawa made it a three-hit game as he tripled home Cintron and sent Missions manager Luke Montz to the mound to make a pitching change. All it took was one pitch once Caleb Roberts stepped into the box to bring the game all square, hitting Amarillo's third home run of the night to make it 6-6. A.J. Vukovich kept it rolling with a single, making it all the way to third later in the inning via a stolen base and throwing error. A groundout kept the game tied heading to the seventh.
Taylor Rashi took over on the mound for Amarillo after Rice saw a one-out single come off of his watch. Two other singles loaded the bases for the Missions with two outs. However, Rashi kept it tied, inducing a groundout to get out of the jam. Amarillo tried to push the envelope with back-to-back two-out singles coming in the bottom of the seventh. The latter off the bat of Cintron for his second hit of the game. With a throw to second, Robinson made a dash for the plate but a perfect relay sent Rashi back to the mound still all square at six a piece. A hit batter and stolen base moved the potential go-ahead run for the Missions into scoring position with one out. Rashi picked up his first strikeout of the night ahead of another ground ball. A high throw from across the diamond was too tall for Beer to handle as the runner from second scored on the play to give San Antonio the lead once again. The Amarillo right-hander struck out his second of the frame to leave two on base for the Missions and the Sod Poodles chasing a run in the bottom of the eighth.
After going down in order, Raffi Vizcaino matched it in the top of the ninth, striking out the last two to send the game to the bottom of the ninth with Amarillo needing a run.
With one gone, Beer hit a solo home run to the deepest part of the park to level things up once again for Amarillo off Efrain Contreras. A hard ground out and strikeout meant game one of the playoffs would be headed to extra innings.
Vizcaino struck out his third man of the night ahead of a RBI single that scored the runner from second with the extra-innings rule in place. A flyout and another RBI single pushed the Missions' advantage to two in the first frame of extras. A two-out walk then kept the Missions at the plate. The walk loomed large with a three-run home run extending San Antonio's lead to five.
Sod Poodles' 8-9-1 hitters were due up in the bottom of the 10th starting with Robinson. A strikeout was followed by a walk by Cintron who reached base for the fifth time after earning four hits on the night. The walk also brought on a new reliever for San Antonio as Daniel Camarena took over on the bump with one way and runners on first and second for Duzenack. Amarillo's leadoff man dumped a ball into shallow right field to load the bases and brought a buzz back to the hometown faithful. Tawa was robbed of extra bases and possibly a grand slam as Korry Howell made a leaping grab in front of the short wall in right. A run did score on the play to cut it to four. With two down, Roberts hit his second home run of the night on a 2-2 pitch to bring Amarillo within a run and the Sod Poodles cleanup hitter coming to the plate. Vukovich put a charge into the ball, but not enough as a flyout brought an end to the game of the year at HODGETOWN.
The two teams will have a day off on Wednesday before resuming the series on Thursday in San Antonio at Nelson Wolff Stadium. RHP Yilber Diaz will take the ball for the Sod Poodles while Ryan Bergert will toe the rubber for the Missions. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
TAWABUNGA: Tim Tawa hit his first home run of the playoffs and made it two straight games with a home run after ending Sunday's regular-season finale with a solo shot. Tuesday night marked the third time this season that Tawa has homered in back-to-back games and his first since June 3rd and 4th on the road in Springfield. It was Tawa's second home run in 15 total games played against the Missions in 2023. Tawa finished the game 3-for-4 with a home run, triple, three RBI, two runs scored, and a walk.
KRISTHIM ROBINSHIM: For the third straight game, D-backs' no. 11 rated prospect hit a home run for Amarillo. Kristian Robinson earned a late-season promotion from Low-A Visalia after hitting four home runs over his final four games with the Rawhide and now has three home runs in six games in Double-A. He joins Ivan Melendez and Neyfy Castillo as the only other Sod Poodles players to homer in three straight games this season. Robinson tied his single-season career-high with 14 home runs with his home run on Sunday and now with 15, has hit more home runs in 2023 than he had in any other season of his professional career. Robinson added a second hit later in the game, giving him back-to-back games with a multi-hit effort, his first two in Double-A.
COOL, CALM, AND CRUSHED BY CALEB: Caleb Roberts hit his 18th and 19th home runs of the season in game one of the playoffs. It was his third multi-home run game of the year - with his last coming on September 1st against Midland. His three multi-home run games are the most by a Sod Poodles player this year and also marked the first multi-home run game by a Sod Poodle in postseason history. 16 of his home runs have come over his last 59 games since June 25th. Roberts entered the playoffs leading all qualified and active Sod Poodles in AVG (.278), doubles (23), and OPS (.905). His 19 long balls currently rank sixth-most in the D-backs farm system in 2023.
TAYLOR THE TOOL TIME RELIEVER: Taylor Rashi worked 1.2 IP on Tuesday's opener without an earned run, extending his streak to eight straight games without an earned run being charged to him dating back to August 19th. His streak now spans 13.1 IP and he has allowed just four hits with 19 strikeouts and two walks issued. His one walk came back on August 29th, giving him nine consecutive innings without surrendering a free pass. His eight games without an earned run is currently the fourth-longest active streak in the Texas League among players still playing.
TO THE BEER GARDEN WE GO: Seth Beer tied the game in the bottom of the ninth with his 14th home run of the campaign and his second over his last three games. Beer played in the 2019 Southern League Playoffs with Double-A Jackson in the D-backs system, hitting a home run in nine games. Tuesday marked the second home run of his Minor League postseason career. Tuesday's solo blast was also the fifth of his season with Amarillo which has come in the eighth inning or later.
PLAYOFF FOUR: Finishing the game 4-for-4, Jancarlos Cintron recorded just the second-ever four-hit playoff game by a Sod Poodle. Edward Olivares did it on September 15 on the road in Tulsa during the Texas League Championship series and now is accompanied by Jancarlos Cintron. Tuesday marked the 131st game Cintron has played in an Amarillo uniform and his first-ever four-hit night as a Sod Poodle.
BOMBS AWAY: Amarillo and San Antonio combined for 10 home runs, with both sides hitting five home runs a piece. Home runs accounted for 18 of the 23 total combined runs on Tuesday night. The five home runs hit by Amarillo tied the most the club has hit in a game this year, the sixth time doing so and first since September 1st against Midland. It was also the third time allowing five home runs, and the first since the second game of the July 3rd doubleheader. The 10 combined home runs was the second time that has happened in the Texas League this year, both games involving the Sod Poodles. Amarillo and Tulsa each swatted five in that second game of the July 3rd doubleheader.