NORTH LITTLE ROCK - A.J. Schugel and Eddie McKiernan combined on a one-hit shutout as the Arkansas Travelers began their six-game home stand with a 3-0 victory over the Corpus Christi Hooks on Wednesday night. Schugel (6-7) got the win with six innings of work allowing the Hooks' only three base runners of the night on a single, walk and hit batter while striking out three. McKiernan earned his first save of the year with three perfect relief innings. Casey Haerther led the way with three singles and run scored for the Travs.
Although the Travs earned their fifth win in seven games and improve to 26-25 in the second half, they remain 7.5 games out of first place with Springfield's 6-1 victory over San Antonio.
Schugel was matched for four inning by Hooks starter Asher Wojciechowski (1-2), but the Travs broke through in the fifth inning for two runs on three base hits. Darwin Perez sparked the inning with a one-out single then took second base on a passed ball charged to Chris Wallace. With two outs, Renny Osuna lined a single to right field to score Perez. After taking second base on the throw home, Osuna scored when Paul McAnulty stroked an RBI single through the infield shift for a 2-0 Travs lead.
Haerther led off the sixth inning with a single to right field then moved to second base on a fielder's choice. Carlos Ramirez drove in the final run of the night with a two-out single to left field bringing Haerther home just ahead of the throw.
Schugel's night started oddly with a hit batter on an 0-2 count, but Ramirez helped him out of the first inning by catching George Springer stealing second base and Schugel caught Jon Singleton looking for the third out. Only two of the last 17 batters reached base on Schugel who threw 55 strikes out of 81 pitches and earned his first win since July 18.
McKiernan, who earned the win backing Schugel up last Thursday at Corpus Christi, was perfect in his three innings with 24 strikes out of 32 pitches adding two strikeouts.
The Travs tied for the Texas League lead with their 11th shutout win, their second blanking of the Hooks in a week.
Time of game was 2:20 and the paid attendance was 3,561.
The second game of the series is set for Thursday night at Dickey-Stephens Park with Mike Piazza (5-3, 2.68) taking on the Hooks' Bobby Doran (3-2, 7.67). First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.