AUBURN, NY - With a packed house at historic Falcon Park, 18-year old Ricardo Mendez made sure every last Doubleday fan went home happy after going 2-for-4 with two RBI during the Doubledays'(1-0) home opener against the Batavia Muckdogs (0-1).
The Doubledays wasted no time in putting another man on base after stranding a runner in the first after catcher Israel Pineda worked a leadoff walk. A blast off the bat of Adalberto Carrillo landed runners at second and third presented Mendez with his first RBI opportunities of the 2018 season, tapping a single underneath the glove of second baseman Gerardo Nunez to give Auburn a 2-0 lead.
"The quality of his at-bats in those situations (impressed me)," said Doubledays manager Jerad Head. "He showed a little maturity, especially in the second and third at-bats."
Mendez advanced on a sacrifice bunt, and thanks to a Batavia error and some heads-up baserunning, scored the third run of the inning after catcher Igor Baez 's attempt scooted away from Muckdog third baseman Denis Karas .
On the mound for the Doubledays, righty Malvin Pena provided five solid innings of one-run ball for his first start at Falcon Park. Pena recorded timely strikeouts throughout the night while his defense behind him got him out of some tough situations.
"That's the way he's been pitching all extended spring," Head said. "We talked about it a couple of weeks ago and he was the guy that was going to get the ball the first game and he did what we expected of him tonight."
Pena's lone earned run came in the fifth inning following a leadoff double by Karas. A fielder's choice advanced him to third base, where a wild pitch allowed Karas to pick up the Muckdogs' lone run of the game.
The bottom of the sixth exemplified small ball at its finest, with Mendez once again in the middle of all the action after getting on board with a fielder's choice. The outfielder advanced to third on a perfectly executed hit-and-run by fellow Venezuelan Jose Sanchez , where an even more perfect safety squeeze from Juan Pascal scored Mendez to get the Doubledays' lost run back. Nick Choruby , playing his second season with the Doubledays, plated Pascal with a single of his own to give Auburn a commanding 5-1 lead.
Batavia did give themselves an opportunity in the seventh, knocking righty Aaron Barrett out of the game after allowing a leadoff single and a walk to force a pitching change. The Muckdogs worked righty David Smith for a walk, but Smith quickly bounced back with a strikeout before first baseman Jamori Blash ended the inning with a spectacular unassisted double play.
"It felt great," Blash said. "We played great as a whole today and hopefully we continue."
The Doubledays' bullpen held off Batavia for the remainder of the contest, securing their first win of the 2018 season. Auburn's five runs showcased the timely hitting that the team hopes to continually tap into throughout the season.
The Doubledays will be back in action again tomorrow night at 6:30 against the Batavia Muckdogs.