There were characters dressed in "super hero" costumes at Dickey-Stephens Park Friday night, but Iron Man, Superman and Captain America (and if that was the "real" Captain America, we're in serious trouble) couldn't hold a candle to Matt Shoemaker and his beard.
The Arkansas starter tossed his fourth complete game in 12 starts, going the distance for a 2-hit shutout, as the Travelers defeated the RockHounds, 5-0.
Shoemaker, who stands 6-4, 225, sports a black beard that may not (quite) match that of Giants closer Brian Wilson, but comes close. The facial hair makes the right-hander look far older than his age (24), and Shoemaker pitches with a skill level beyond his years as well. He may also have had some added motivation, as the 'Hounds were one of only two trams to rough Shoemaker up, previously getting to him for eight hits and five runs in 6.0 innings, July 2 at Citibank Ballpark.
He gave up a first inning flair single to left-center off the bat of Adam Heether, but allowed only two walks from that point until Shane Peterson ripped a line drive single to right in the eighth inning. Shoemaker allowed only five base runners on the night (two hits, two walks and a hit batsman).
Angel Castillo doubled in the second and fourth innings, scoring twice and driving in a run, as the Travelers built a 4-0 lead.
Arkansas played its first game without center fielder Mike Trout. The 19-year-old was called up to the Major League LA Angels of Anaheim after Thursday night's game and made his big league debut Friday night at Anaheim, batting ninth in the Angels' game against the Seattle Mariners. Trout, rated the Angels' # 1 prospect, was hitting .324 with nine home runs, 27 RBI and 28 stolen bases (in 36 attempts) with the Travelers. He becomes the youngest active player in the Major Leagues.
The 'Hounds are 6-8 in the second half, three games behind first-place San Antonio (9-5) and one game behind Frisco (7-7).
ROAD 'HOUNDS - The RockHounds play at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock Saturday, followed by a 3-game set with the Cardinals at Hammons Field in Springfield, Missouri It all "balances out," of course, but the 'Hounds are in a stretch of the season in which the club plays 18-of-24 games on the road.
ROCKY TOWN - The RockHounds return home for a weekend series with the Texas League's top club, the San Antonio Missions, beginning Thursday, July 14. The 'Hounds will host San Antonio on "Thirsty" Thursday through Sunday the 17th at Citibank Ballpark. Check out all the details at www.midlandrockhounds.org.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.