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Top 10 Games: #10 – April 8 vs. Midland – Inaugural Game at HODGETOWN

Counting Down the Top 10 Sod Poodles Games during 2019
HODGETOWN on Opening Night, April 8, 2019 (John Moore)
April 24, 2020

"In a season full of amazing memories, there may be no more memorable night of the inaugural season than the night HODGETOWN officially opened to the Texas Panhandle." - Sam Levitt, Sod Poodles Broadcaster

"In a season full of amazing memories, there may be no more memorable night of the inaugural season than the night HODGETOWN officially opened to the Texas Panhandle." - Sam Levitt, Sod Poodles Broadcaster

April 8, 2019 marked the first affiliated, professional baseball game played in the city of Amarillo since the 1982 Gold Sox season (37 years) and 50 years to the date of the San Diego Padres’ inaugural home opener (April 8, 1969).

In their inaugural home game at HODGETOWN in front of a sellout crowd of 7,175 fans, the Sod Poodles fell to the Midland RockHounds. Although it would end in a 9-4 defeat, the game was everything you would’ve hoped for to start things up in Amarillo.

National Anthem - Opening Night John Moore

Coming off a 1-3 road trip in Corpus Christi to start the 2019 season, Amarillo returned home to face the RockHounds on a beautiful Monday evening in downtown Amarillo.

Starting Pitcher Reggie Lawson - Opening Night, April 8, 2019 John Moore

The Sod Poodles jumped out with the first lead of the night in the third inning after outfielder Buddy Reed knocked HODGETOWN’s first-ever home run, a solo shot to right field.

Amarillo’s lead would go by the wayside in the fourth after Midland rallied for three runs highlighted by Jonah Heim’s two-run home run to give the RockHounds a 3-1 lead. After Midland extended their lead to 4-1 in the fifth, Brad Zunica brought momentum for the good guys with his solo home run while a sacrifice fly by Reed would cut the lead to 4-3. Then, in the sixth, Jorge Ona launched a solo home run to tie things up.

Brad Zunica After Homering - Opening Night John Moore

In the bottom of the ninth inning, the Soddies had a chance to tally win number one in the fresh archives. Zunica worked a leadoff walk and was followed by a sacrifice bunt by Olivares to put the go-ahead run in scoring position. With Chris Baker in to pinch-run, Peter Van Gansen laced a single to right field, sending a sprinting Baker around third but was thrown out at the plate for the second out of the inning. After an intentional walk to Reed, Owen Miller grounded into a fielder's choice, forcing Reed out at second base to send the first-ever home game into extra innings.

In the tenth, with the new extra-inning rule in effect and a runner starting at second base, the RockHounds took full advantage and plated five runs on five hits to make it a 9-4 advantage. In the bottom of the ninth, the Sod Poodles were retired in order, falling to Midland in the inaugural home game.

Sod Poodles Broadcaster Sam Levitt Interviews Minor League Baseball President, Pat O'Connor at HODGETOWN John Moore
Thoughts from Sam Levitt in the booth:

"After years of anticipation surrounding the return of affiliated baseball, Opening Night in downtown Amarillo was the perfect culmination of that excitement. It was truly the first time we could see our fans embrace the ballpark and team. It was just the start of what would be a magical season in so many ways. The sights and sounds of that night were breathtaking, and that’s what will always stand out to me. From seeing the ballpark come alive for the very first time…to fans packing the stands and lawn areas…to the players being introduced…to Ed Montana’s acoustic rendition of the national anthem…to our first look at on-field promotions…and so much more. I still look back at videos of that night and the memories are vivid."

Post-Game Fireworks Show at HODGETOWN In Celebration of Professional, Affiliated Baseball Being Back in Amarillo John Moore