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Amarillo Scores Three Late Runs to Earn Extra Inning Win

English, Vukovivh Plate All Three Runs For Amarillo
(Press Pass Sports)
April 21, 2023

Springdale, Arkansas (April 20, 2023) – The Amarillo Sod Poodles earned the first extra-inning win of the season thanks to some late heroics from Tristin English and company. Down to the final strike in the top of the ninth inning, English scorched a two-RBI single for the first Amarillo lead

Springdale, Arkansas (April 20, 2023) – The Amarillo Sod Poodles earned the first extra-inning win of the season thanks to some late heroics from Tristin English and company. Down to the final strike in the top of the ninth inning, English scorched a two-RBI single for the first Amarillo lead of the game as the rest of the drama began to unfold.

Held to just two hits through the first eight innings of the game, Amarillo found themselves down by a run entering the ninth inning. Northwest Arkansas took the very early lead, scoring the only run of the first eight innings of the game in the bottom of the first.

Amarillo threatened in the top of the fourth, loading the bases thanks to a fielding error and back-to-back walks in front of Juan Centeno. Nothing came of the Naturals' miscues as a ground ball kept the game at 1-0 in favor of NW Arkansas.

Sod Poodles left-fielder Neyfy Castillo kept a runner out of scoring position in the bottom of the fourth, throwing out an overzealous Jimmy Govern who tried to stretch a single into extra bases. Centeno drew a leadoff walk in the seventh and then stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch with one out. Amarillo was kept at bay once again and unable to knot the game at a run-a-piece as a caught stealing and strikeout kept Centeno standing on third.

Left-hander Andrew Saalfrank highlighted what was another magnificent performance by the Sod Poodles bullpen. Saalfrank fired two hitless innings while collecting five straight strikeouts to end his outing. He relieved Josh Green who worked three innings of his own without a run allowed, surrendering just one hit - the single that Castillo quickly erased from the basepath. Blake Workman worked a hitless eighth before the late-inning drama began.

Castillo earned a one-out walk, the first of three total walks in the top of the ninth to load the bases and set the stage for English. After going ahead in the count 3-1, a called strike put English and the Sod Poodles down to their final strike. Three straight foul balls preceded the 105 MPH rocket off English's bat that snuck under the glove of the Naturals' first baseman. The two-RBI single allowed Castillo and Nick Dalesandro to come home.

A two-out, game-tying solo home run by NW Arkansas' Govern added to the drama and would send Amarillo to their first extra-inning game of the young season.

A.J. Vukovich just missed out on a home run, drilling the bottom of the left-field wall for the go-ahead RBI single in the top of the 10th. Vukovich was thrown out at second after trying to place himself in scoring position. The next two Amarillo hitters were retired, leaving Amarillo hanging onto a one-run lead once again.

Southpaw Jake Rice became the sixth Amarillo pitcher used, replacing Michel Otanez after his lone inning in the bottom of the ninth. Juan Centeno assisted with the first out of the inning, firing a perfect throw down to Vukovich at third to nab the lead runner on the fielder's choice bunt. Rice induced a pop fly for the second out of the inning before the runner on first swiped second to get into scoring position.

A sharply hit grounder kicked off the foot of second baseman Ryan Bliss and ricocheted into the waiting glove of Vukovich. He fired a strike to Centeno to cut down Tyler Tolbert who got the wave around third after the fielding error, ending the ballgame 3-2 in favor of the Soddies.

With a 2-1 series lead after consecutive wins, Amarillo will go for their third straight in hopes of at least securing a series split in Springdale. Right-hander Jamison Hill will take the bump for Amarillo against NW Arkansas' Andrew Hoffman on Friday night. First pitch from Arvest Ballpark is slated for 7:05 p.m.


CLASS IS IN SESSION: Tristin English's go-ahead two-RBI knock, his sixth and seventh RBI of the season are good for fifth best on the team through 12 games. English is hitting .286 (8-for-28) with two doubles and three homers to begin the season.

AIN'T NO VUK: After a 1-for-4 night, A.J. Vukovich now has 11 hits on the season, second most on the team behind Ryan Bliss (21). After his game-winning RBI in the 10th, Vuk has driven in 11 total runs in 11 games played and currently paces the club in RBI. Through 22 total games in Amarillo after being promoted from High-A Hillsboro on Sept. 6, 2022, Vukovich holds a .286 AVG (24-for-84). He has a double, four home runs, and 20 RBI total since making his Double-A debut.

THE OL' ARM BARM:After 8.0 IP with just two hits surrendered and one run on Thursday night, the Amarillo bullpen currently holds a 4-0 record and is 5-for-6 in save opportunities. Through 61.0 IP, the relievers have allowed just 57 hits and have the third-most strikeouts by a Texas League bullpen with 77. Josh Green tied the season-high by a reliever, giving the Sod Poodles 3.0 IP in the win. Green, the 2019 Arizona Diamondbacks MiLB Pitcher of the Year has logged four total games, three of which have been scoreless. After five strikeouts, Andrew Saalfrank paces the bullpen in strikeouts with 12 total in 7.2 IP this season.

JUAN WHEN THEY LEARN: Catcher Juan Centeno hosed another runner trying to swipe a base. Centeno now has racked up 26 caught stealing through 66 games behind the dish for Amarillo. He caught nearly half of the attempted base stealers against him a year ago and holds a 45% caught stealing since joining the Sod Poodles.

ALL GOOD THINGS...: Ryan Bliss' team-best 10-game hit streak to begin the season came to an end on Thursday night after going 0-for-5. Bliss currently holds the Double-A lead with 21 hits through 11 games after racking up eight multi-hit performances.