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Calf Fries Fall in Extras

Amarillo Unable to Match Springfield's Six Run Extra Inning
(Roy Wheeler / Press Pass Sports)
April 20, 2024

AMARILLO, Texas (April 19, 2024) – Playing as the best alternate identity in baseball for the first time in the new season, the Amarillo Calf Fries dropped their first extra innings game of 2024. The bats powered the offense in the early going but went cold as the temperature dropped

AMARILLO, Texas (April 19, 2024) – Playing as the best alternate identity in baseball for the first time in the new season, the Amarillo Calf Fries dropped their first extra innings game of 2024. The bats powered the offense in the early going but went cold as the temperature dropped throughout the night. A Springfield six-run top of the 12th was too much for Amarillo to match in the 9-4 loss on Friday night

Right-hander Yilber Diaz surrendered a one-out two-run home run in the top of the first inning as the Cardinals jumped in front early. All three hits and both runs the D-backs no. 16-rated prospect allowed for the night came before there were two outs in the game's opening frame. From there, Diaz struck out eight batters, including striking out the side in the second and again in his fifth and final inning on Friday night.

For the Calf Fries offense, J.J. D'Orazio hit a solo home run in the bottom of the third for his first round-tripper of the season to cut the Amarillo deficit in half. Another solo homer in the bottom of the fourth, this time off the bat of Ivan Melendez knotted things up at two. Neyfy Castillo joined the home run club with his first of the season in the fifth to give the Calf Fries their first lead of the game. All three solo blasts came against Cardinals' no. 2-rated prospect Tekoah Roby who entered the game with four home runs allowed in four previous appearances against Amarillo, all of which came when he was a Frisco RoughRider.

With Diaz's night coming to a close after the fifth, Emailin Montilla took over on the mound holding onto a one-run lead. A leadoff single turned into the tying run standing on third base after a two-base blunder. That run was able to cross the plate on a sacrifice fly, evening the score at 3-3. The single and unearned run was all that Montilla would allow in his two innings of work. Jake Rice hurled a hitless inning in the eighth and then turned the ball over to John Matthews for the start of the ninth. A two-out single was just the fifth hit the Amarillo pitching staff allowed through nine innings after Matthews induced an easy ground ball to end the inning.

Following Castillo's leadoff homer in the bottom of the fifth, Roby and the Cardinal's relievers held the Amarillo lineup to just four singles over the next five regulation innings.

Matthews returned to the mound to start extras and struck out two of the three batters he faced to leave the go-ahead run stranded on second. Springfield's Matt Svanson one-upped Matthews, striking out the side with a two-out intentional free pass mixed in there. Amarillo called upon Carlos Meza in the top of the 11th and the southpaw faced just three batters to send the game to the bottom of the 11th. Two walks helped to load the bases with just one out for the Calf Fries who looked poised to get their first walk-off win of the season. Instead, back-to-back strikeouts moved the game to the 12th.

Six Springfield runs came via two hits in the third extra inning. A RBI double against the second batter Meza faced in the inning and then a bases-clearing, three-RBI double three batters later. Gerardo Gutierrez made his Double-A debut and was called upon to get the final two outs of the inning. The first closed the line on Meza but also brought in the sixth and final run of the inning.

Kevin Graham's two-out RBI single in the bottom of the 12th gave Amarillo their fourth and final run of the game.

Now all square again in the series, the final two games will determine if Amarillo can secure their first series win or split of the early season. RHP Dylan File (0-1, 9.00 ERA) gets the start for Amarillo. Springfield will send RHP Edwin Nuñez (0-0, 4.75 ERA) to the bump. First pitch on Saturday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.


DEEP FLIED AND BATTERED: Amarillo's only three runs in the first nine innings of baseball on Friday night all came via the long ball. J.J. D'Orazio started it with a solo shot in the third for his first home run of the season, and his first since August 27, 2023, in San Antonio. D'Orazio hit two home runs over his first two professional seasons in the Toronto Blue Jays system and now has 12 homers in 201 games in the Arizona Diamondbacks org. Friday's homer was his second in 49 Double-A games since joining Amarillo.

BIG TEXAN TATERS?: Ivan Melendez launched his second home run of the season, and first at HODGETOWN. The D-backs no. 8-rated prospect led the farm system with 30 home runs a year ago and was just one of 14 players to ever have a 30+ home run season in the D-backs minor leagues. Melendez started his Double-A tenure with homers in each of his first three games in 2023 and finished with 12 through his first 38 games played with Amarillo.

CASTILLO > CAST IRONS: Like D'Orazio, Neyfy Castillo collected his first homer of the season on Friday night. He launched the third and final home run off Tekoah Roby for his first home run since September 3, 2023, at HODGETOWN against Midland. That home run was the 180th of the season hit by Amarillo, setting the franchise's single-season home run record. After a slow start to the season that saw him with a .074 AVG, Castillo has hits in three of his last four games with all three of his season's XBH coming this week against Springfield. Castillo had 36 XBH a season ago for Amarillo in 98 games played, including 17 home runs which were T-4th on the team.

TAWA NUMBA ONE: With a hit on Friday, Tim Tawa now has 163 hits for his Sod Poodles career, making him the franchise's all-time hits leader. Tawa is the current all-time leader in hits, games played (184), at-bats (686), runs scored (107), walks (83), and total bases (276). He is tied for first in XBH along with Eduardo Diaz, each having 58. He is second in RBI (99), trailing current teammate A.J. Vukovich who has 117 and counting. Tawa is third all-time in home runs with 27, and trails Vukovich by two.

IT'S A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT: The 12-inning game on Friday night was the first extra innings game of the season and the most innings Amarillo has played in a game since playing 13 against the Tulsas Drillers on June 30th, 2023. Friday night was just the fourth time Amarillo has had a game go past the 11th inning.

CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY: Yilber Diaz struck out eight Springfield Cardinals on Friday night, giving him eight strikeouts in all three of his starts in 2024. The D-backs no. 16-rated prospect was tied for the most strikeouts in the D-backs organization in 2023 with 140 and currently leads the farm system - and the Texas League - after Friday. The right-hander now sits at 280 strikeouts through his first 66 professional games (46 starts). At 221 career innings pitched, Diaz now holds a K/9 of 11.4.

WE ALL HIT: Kevin Graham's RBI single in the bottom of the 12th gave all Amarillo starters a hit in the game, the first time that has been done in 2024 and the first time since the final game of 2023 in the Texas League Championship. It's just the 36th time that all nine starters for Amarillo recorded at least one hit in the same game.