The RockHounds scored runs by every method short of Visa and MasterCard ... backing an outstanding start from Kyle Friedrichs ... in a 7-3 victory over the Tulsa Drillers Monday evening at Security Bank Ballpark.
Friedrichs went six innings, allowing just one run on three hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out four. Of the three hits, two came off the bat of Peter O'Brien, who ripped a 2-0 pitch over the left-center field wall to give the Drillers a 1-0 lead in the third inning.
Despite taking the loss, Dodgers prospect Yadier Alvarez pitched well for Tulsa, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits over four-and-a-third innings. His only walk, to Mikey White leading off the fifth, turned into the tying run on back-to-back singles from J.P. Sportman and Melvin Mercedes. Michael Johnson relieved Alvarez and, after striking out Brett Vertigan, walked Eli White on a 3-2 pitch. Mercedes was running from first on the full count delivery, and catcher Will Smith threw to second. Shortstop Drew Jackson failed to cover the bag, allowing Smith's throw to sail into shallow center field as Sportman scored the go-ahead run from third.
The 'Hounds pieced together five more runs, including a key three-run rally in the seventh, highlighted by Tyler Ramirez' two-run double. Tulsa relievers walked a total of six batters, had two wild pitches (one of them allowing a run to score) and Jackson (an outstanding defender who simply had a rough night) dropped a pop-up in the wind to let the 'Hounds final run cross the plate.
With the win, the RockHounds improve to 4-1, sharing first place in the Texas League South with the San Antonio Missions.
Kyle Friedrichs, who spent the first half of last season with the RockHounds (1-4, with a 6.00 ERA in 18 games), was outstanding in his '18 season debut. Against a very aggressive Tulsa lineup, the right-hander threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of the 21 batters he faced and went 2-0 only twice ... both against Peter O'Brien, who took a 2-0 pitch out in the third and singled on an eventual full count in the fifth.
Melvin Mercedes went 2-for-4 with a run, an RBI and a stolen base. He is 5-for-11 (.455) in three games.
Tyler Ramirez went 2-for-5 with a two-run double. He has now hit in four straight games, going 8-for-18 (.444) with three doubles, a triple and four RBI in the four-gamer (and has reached base in all five games to open the season).
Eli White went 1-for-3, scoring one run, plus two walks and a stolen base. He ranks ninth in the Texas League, batting .412 (7-for-17).
Completely Useless But Kinda Cool Stat(s)
J.P. Sportman was the RockHounds' starting third baseman Monday night ... the first time he has played there in his pro career (359 games).
Tuesday, April 10 vs. Tulsa Drillers
Security Bank Ballpark 6:30 p.m. (Gates open at 6:00)
Final of a three-game series vs. Tulsa and of a six-game homestand
... with a coupon from any area Baskin-Robbins location
Radio: NewsTalk 550 with Bob Hards ... airtime 6:15 p.m.
TUL: Dennis Santana (RH, 0-0, 1.93)
RCK: Kyle Friedrichs (RH, 0-0, 4.50)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.