"The shift giveth ... and the shift taketh away." With two on, two out and down in the count (1-2), Brett Vertigan singled through the left side of the Corpus Christi defense, driving in the tying and game-winning runs as the RockHounds edged the Hooks, 3-2, in a game played before an outstanding AFLAC Night crowd of more than five thousand (5,317) Tuesday night at Security Bank Ballpark.
The game was scoreless through seven innings ... all the runs came in the eighth ... as the Hooks' Brock Dykxhoorn (see below) and the RockHounds' Ben Bracewell were both outstanding. Bracewell pitched into the eighth inning, allowing just three hits, two walks and two hit batsmen while striking out seven (one shy of his season high, set April 25 at Corpus Christi).
Corpus Christi broke through in the eighth with a rally set up by a walk to Hooks newcomer Josh Rojas and the second of Bracewell's hit batsmen (Miles Straw), putting two on with no outs. Alex De Goti greeted reliever Jarret Martin with a perfect sacrifice bunt and Yordan Alvarez singled to center. Rojas scored easily, but Tyler Ramirez' throw to the plate was in time to get Straw (the league's leading base stealer), with 'Hounds catcher Sean Murphy making a tremendous catch-and tag. Carmen Benedetti's two-out single later pushed the lead to 2-0.
J.P. Sportman opened the home half of the eighth reaching on a two-base throwing error by second baseman Rojas and scored on Eli White's RBI single to left. Murphy followed with a one-out walk and a throwing error by first baseman Nick Tanielu loaded the bases. Hooks reliever Alex WInkleman struck Tyler Marincov out and was ahead of Vertigan, 1-2, with two out. The left-handed hitter sent a sharp ground ball through the position normally occupied by the shortstop, beating the shift for the two-run game-winner.
The 'Hounds claimed their second consecutive late-innings come-from-behind victory after rallying from a 3-0 deficit to defeat San Antonio Monday in the last of an eight-game road trip. San Antonio pummeled Frisco (20-4) to move into a first place tie with the Hooks (both 15-10), while the RockHounds moved to 14-11, just one game back in the Texas League South.
Tyler Ramirez has hits in five straight games and, including his pinch-hit, game-winning walk Monday at San Antonio, has reached base in his last six (8-for-17, .471, with five walks and a hit by pitch for a .609 OBP).
Both Ramirez and Tyler Ramirez had an outfield assist Tuesday, the fourth for each this season. Along with Ramirez' run-saving thrown to the plate, Marincov's laser from the right field line denied Josh Rojas (12-for-12 in stolen bases in the Carolina League before his call-up) from stretching a single into a double with the game scoreless in the fifth. Without that throw, the Hooks would have had runners at second and third with one out. Instead, with a runner at third and two away, Ben Bracewell was able to end the threat with a strikeout of Miles Straw.
Brett Vertigan has reached base in 11 straight games (10-34, .294), with 11 walks and a hit by pitch (a .478 OBP).
Eli White has reached base in eight straight games and is hitting .295 over his last 12 games.
While he didn't figure in the decision, Corpus Christi starter Brock Dykxhoorn continued a brilliant start to the season, lowering his ERA to 1.16 in five outings. Two of those have come against the RockHounds, games in which the 6-9 right-hander from Delhi, Ontario, Canada has gone 10-and-two-thirds shutout innings, allowing just three hits.
Wednesday, May 2 vs. Corpus Christi Hooks
Security Bank Ballpark 11:00 a.m. (Gates open at 10:00)
Safety Awareness (Kids) Day ... Special Start Time
No Radio Broadcast
CC: Yoanys Quiala (RH, 1-2, 6.11)
RH: Norge Ruiz (RH, 2-1, 4.26)
at Security Bank Ballpark vs. Corpus Christi Hooks
Thursday May 3 Thirsty Thursday
Friday May 4 Fireworks
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.