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Amarillo Jumps Out Front Early, Can't Escape Frisco Walk-Off

Zach Davies Strikes Out Seven In First Rehab Start
(Matt Smith / Press Pass Sports)
May 21, 2023

Frisco, Texas (May 20, 2023) – The Amarillo Sod Poodles dropped their Saturday night tilt against the Frisco RoughRiders 8-7 in extra innings. Amarillo was held scoreless through the later innings until plating the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th. Before RHP Zach Davies took the mound in

Frisco, Texas (May 20, 2023) – The Amarillo Sod Poodles dropped their Saturday night tilt against the Frisco RoughRiders 8-7 in extra innings. Amarillo was held scoreless through the later innings until plating the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th.

Before RHP Zach Davies took the mound in the first inning of his first rehab start for Amarillo he had a four run cushion to work with. The Sod Poodles took advantage of a two out single and a pair of walks to load the bases. A throwing error helped to score the first two runs before another walk re-loaded the bases for Juan Centeno. The veteran catcher gave his battery mate some run support as he laced a 2-RBI single into left field.

Davies struck out the first batter he faced and then induced a fly out to left field. With two outs, the right-hander surrendered a line drive that hit off the heel of his glove. The 106 MPH comebacker brought out the Sod Poodles athletic trainer as well as manager Shawn Roof to check on the rehabber. All was clear and he got out the first inning without anything coming of the two-out single. Davies worked around the second single off him, utilizing his tantalizing changeup to earn his third strikeout of the game to bring a close to the second inning.

A.J. Vukovich doubled to begin the top of the third, later coming around to pad the Amarillo cushion to 5-0 thanks to a Tim Tawa sac fly.

Davies continued, adding a pair of strikeouts in the bottom of the third and then collected his sixth strikeout of the night to end the Riders half of the fourth.

D-backs' top rated prospect, Jordan Lawlar, drew a leadoff walk and then swiped second before being pushed to third on a productive out. Adrian Del Castillo picked up where he left off last night, bringing home Lawlar and extending the Amarillo lead to 6-0.

Davies' night came to a close after 4.2 IP with just three hits against him and seven strikeouts. Endrys Brinceno was the first man out of the Amarillo bullpen. He needed just five pitches to retire the lone Frisco batter he would face before Jamison Hill, the scheduled starter on Saturday night, took over in the bottom of the sixth.

The RoughRiders inched closer, using a five-run inning including a grand slam to draw within one of the Sod Poodles lead. Fellow right-hander Jackson Goodard pitched around a pair of walks to leave a pair of Frisco base runners stranded by striking out the 10th Frisco hitter of the sixth inning to help maintain the one-run Amarillo advantage.

Left-hander Kyle Backhus came on in relief of Goddard after a mini two-out Frisco rally saw Frisco knot the game at six runs a piece. A diving play from Vukovich in shallow left field kept the game tied and left two Riders in scoring position. Backhus kept another pair stranded as he earned his second strikeout of his night to send the game to the top of the 9th inning.

An Amarillo 1-2-3 top of ninth sent Backhus back to the mound. A single, fielder's choice, and double put runners on second and third with just one out. A failed suicide squeeze and rundown saw Kellen Strahm return safely back to third. Backhus struck out the lefty at the plate and set up the righty-righty matchup as Mitchell Stumpo came on for Amarillo.

The move paid off as Stumpo struck out Chris Seise on just four pitches to send the game to extra innings.

In extras, Bliss started the 10th on second base before quickly stealing third. It allowed him to score easily as Lawlar hit a sac fly to deep left field as Amarillo scored one in the first half of extras.

Stumpo struck out the leadoff man for Frisco in the bottom of the 10th but was left facing the heart of the Frisco order. A one out single tied the game as the winning run was on base in the form of Luisangel Acuña. He remained perfect on stolen bases on the year, swiping second to put himself in scoring position. The second-straight single allowed him to score to secure the game five win, and the series for Frisco.

The Sod Poodles and RoughRiders will conclude their six-game series on Sunday with first pitch scheduled for 4:05 p.m. RHP Chad Patrick will take the ball for Amarillo as the team will wrap up the first six of a 12-game road trip away from HODGETOWN.


DAVIES DAZZLES: In his first rehab start, Zach Davies fired 4.2 scoreless innings while racking up seven strikeouts, mainly off his well advertised changeup. After being placed on the 15-day IL back on April 9, Davies tossed 69 pitches (46 strikes) and issued just one free pass to the RoughRiders. Dating back to his last Minor League appearance back in 2018 with the Milwaukee Brewers Single-A affiliate, Davies has spun 13.2 scoreless innings with 13 strikeouts. He tossed a complete game shutout for the Timber Rattlers, allowing seven hits during that August 27, 2018 outing. Davies has started 184 games in the big leagues and held opposing hitters to a .187 BAA off his changeup a year ago with the D-backs, the second-lowest of his career (.176 in 2020).

RUN, VUK, RUN: A.J. Vukovich scored a pair of runs on Saturday night and both runs in the Sod Poodles 2-1 win on Friday night. His 22 runs scored are second on the club, trailing only Ryan Bliss' 30. Vukovich put himself aboard, drawing a walk in the first inning and then doubled to leadoff the top of the third to finish the game 1-for-4. In 31 games played this year, Vukovich has crossed the plate multiple times in seven contests.

AN UNFAMILIAR HILL:Jamison Hill, the scheduled starter for Amarillo on Saturday prior to the Zach Davies news, came out of the bullpen to start the sixth inning. In 37 career minor league games, this was just the third time Hill had come out of the 'pen and first since his Double-A debut back on August 26, 2022 in Corpus Christi. His 0.2 IP were the fewest since being signed by the Diamondbacks as an undrafted free agent out of Fresno State in July 2021. The majority of the damage off Hill came via a grand slam, the first Hill had surrendered in his professional career.

COOL, CALM, & CALEB: Caleb Roberts went 2-for-5 with a run scored on Saturday night. Since returning from the injured list, Roberts is 4-for-13 in the series with a home run, three RBI, and a pair of runs scored. Both of his singles Saturday were of the two-out variety. On the year with two outs, Roberts is hitting .316 (6-for-19) with a homer, four RBI, and a walk. Among active Amarillo players with at least 10-games played, Roberts AVG is second-best, behind Bliss' .333 AVG when hitting with two outs.

PUTTING THE K IN K.B: Southpaw Kyle Backhus fanned three over his 2.0 IP on Saturday night. In his second appearance of the series, the New Waverly, Texas native has four strikeouts in 3.0 IP while allowing just five hits and no runs. He carries nearly an 11.0 K/9 rate through his first 13 games of the season. His 21 total strikeouts rank third among Amarillo relievers with fewer than 20.0 IP on the season (Saalfrank, 29 & Pope, 25). Since being signed by the D-backs in 2021, Backhus has racked up 123 strikeouts in just 96.0 IP as a late-inning reliever (11.5 K/9 rate).

A PLETHORA OF PITCHERS: Each team used six pitchers on Saturday night in the 10-inning contest.For Amarillo, it was the fifth time they had used six combined pitchers in a game and the fourth against Frisco. The team has used seven pitchers in two games this year -albeit one of those saw Nick Dalesandro throw as a position player.

EXTRA, EXTRA: The Sod Poodles dropped their first extra innings game of the year and are now 2-1 in such contests. The loss also marked the first of the season when leading after the 6th inning (12-1). Amarillo was previously 1-1 when tied after the 7th, and 1-0 when tied after the 8th. The six-run advantage was the most surrendered by the club this year, as the previous deficit overcome by Sod Poodles opponents to win a game was two runs.