Amarillo, Texas (June 4, 2023) – The Amarillo Sod Poodles dropped the finale of their six-game set to the Springfield Cardinals on Sunday night, 6-5. A.J. Vukovich launched the first grand slam of the season in the fifth to take the lead over Springfield and Jeff Bain fired a quality
Amarillo, Texas (June 4, 2023) – The Amarillo Sod Poodles dropped the finale of their six-game set to the Springfield Cardinals on Sunday night, 6-5. A.J. Vukovich launched the first grand slam of the season in the fifth to take the lead over Springfield and Jeff Bain fired a quality start, but the club fell victim to a late Springfield rally after they took the lead in the top of the ninth.
The Cardinals found the scoreboard in the top of the first inning. Jeff Bain toed the slab to start for the Sod Poodles and surrendered a lead-off triple followed by three singles that resulted in a Springfield two run lead. Bain punched out the next batter he faced and induced a double play ball to bring up the Amarillo bats in the bottom half.
Tim Tawa cut into the deficit in the first Sod Poodle at bat of the game. The Stanford alum sent his 8th ball of the season into orbit to bring the score to 2-1 while also becoming the fourth player in franchise history to lead-off a contest with a bomb.
Amarillo got a runner into scoring position in their next two offensive opportunities but was unable to capitalize. Adrian Del Castillo roped a double in the second with Roby Enriquez and Neyfy Castillo poking back-to-back hits in the third but all were left stranded.
After he allowed Springfield to score in the first, Bain pumped four straight shutout frames through the fifth inning to pave the way for another Sod Poodle offensive charge in the home frame. Juan Centeno swatted a two-bagger, Enriquez earned his second knock and Castillo wore the next pitch after that to load the bases.
The next Sod Poodle was struck out and Jordan Lawlar reached on a fielder's choice to bring Vukovich up with the bases loaded and two outs. The 21-year-old proceeded to crush the first grand slam of the season for Amarillo and push the club in front of the Cardinals, 5-2.
The Cardinals got their first score in five innings in the next frame. Amarillo's starting arm came back out to hurl and induced back-to-back flyouts but allowed a solo home run that shortened the Soddies' lead to two runs.
Christian Montes De Oca answered the call and came out to relieve Bain in the seventh. The California native walked off the mound after pumping his first quality start of the season. His final line read 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K.
Montes De Oca struck out his first batter but issued back-to-back walks with a ground rule double scoring one and putting a pair of ducks on the pond for Springfield.
Andrew Saalfrank came on in relief of Montes De Oca shortly after that. Centeno, from behind the dish, back-picked the runner on third base for the second out of the inning and Saalfrank got the final out with a swinging strikeout.
Amarillo threatened to score in the bottom half of the seventh. For the second time in the contest, Enriquez and Castillo rifled back-to-back knocks to get planted on the corners. However, three straight Sod Poodles were retired and they were left on the base paths.
Saalfrank found himself in a bases-loaded jam in the eighth. He punched out a Cardinal for the second out of the inning but was replaced by Conor Grammes after that. Grammes walked in the tying run, which was charged to Saalfrank, but that was all the damage allowed as he fanned the next batter to end the frame.
The Cardinals recaptured the lead in their next trip to the plate. A walk and a stolen base planted a runner on second base who was scored with an RBI single to make it 5-6 going into the home frame.
Enriquez lead off the ninth with his fourth knock of the night but the next three Sod Poodles were retired to end the game with a Springfield victory. Amarillo dropped their series finale but walked away from the homestand with their first series win since their road trip to Frisco in their opening set.
The Sod Poodles will now go on the road and face off in Midland for the first time this season in their second meeting with the RockHounds. First pitch is scheduled to be delivered from Momentum Bank Ballpark on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
SLAMARILLO SOD POODLES: A.J. Vukovich went nuclear with two outs and the bases loaded to mash the first grand slam of the season for Amarillo that subsequently took the lead over the Cardinals in the fifth. It was the 21-year-old's 10th blast in 52 games at the Double-A level and his third in four games dating back to Thursday of this series, going for his most in a series since he was on High-A Hillsboro and mashed a home run in four straight games from 8/25-8/28/22 @ VAN. Vukovich's three homers and 1.071 SLG in June is leading the Texas League with his seven RBI tying for first. Vukovich's season high for bombs came last season after crushing 17 in 117 games, however, his eight long balls in 41 games this season is putting him on pace to exceed that. Vukovich is now holding the crown in the D-backs organization through the first four days of June for homers (3), RBI (7), SLG (1.071), XBH (4) and TB (15) and is tied for third with five hits.
TAWA-BUNGA: Tim Tawa turned in a 1-for-5 day at the plate with a lead-off bomb in the bottom of the first. Tawa is just the second Sod Poodle to lead-off the game with a homer this season and is now just one of four to do so in franchise history. The Stanford alum has now had a ball leave the yard in four of his last six games dating back to 5/28 @ San Antonio with his four bombs tying for first in the Texas League across that stretch. He has also now gone nuclear in back-to-back games since game two of yesterday's doubleheader and has launched a homer in consecutive games twice this season. Dating back to 5/28, Tawa has mashed the most homers in the D-backs organization while tying first for total bases (21), second for XBH (5) and third for RBI (7) and hits (8).
INSANE IN THE MEM-BAIN: Jeff Bain toed the rubber and fired his first quality start of his Double-A career, dealing 6.0 innings and surrendering three runs on seven hits while walking none and striking out four Cardinals in the process. Bain has surrendered just four earned runs in his last three starts (16.0 IP) dating back to 5/24 @ San Antonio. The right hander's 16.0 IP dating back to 5/24 is the fourth most innings pitched in the Texas League across that stretch. The California native has not fanned four batters in a start since he struck out as many on 9/7/2022 @ SL with Triple-A Reno. Through his first two starts at HODGETOWN this season, he has punched out 17 batters and walked six (2.83 K:BB) and posts a 1.27 WHIP.
HOLD UP, LET HIM COOK: Roby Enriquez went 4-for-4 with a run scored and was the second Sod Poodle to earn a four-hit performance this season with both coming in the Springfield series. It was the first time since 7/1/2022 vs. NWA that he poked four hits and his first time since 6/4/2022 vs. MID that he knocked in every plate appearance with at least four knocks total. Enriquez's multi-hit performance was his first since 5/9 vs. MID and was his fourth in 35 games played this season. Across two starts this series, he went 4-for-7 with two runs scored and has logged a hit in three of his last four games dating back to 5/26 @ SA with six total pokes.
GOING SICK MODE: Adrian Del Castillo went 2-for-4 with a double. The Miami native has now hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games played dating back to 5/19 @ FRI with this date range encompassing a 10 game hit streak (5/19-31). Dating back to the start of his offensive tear on 5/19, Del Castillo is tied for third in the Texas League for AVG (.385, 15-for-39) while holding the crown for OPS (1.125) and ranking fourth for SLG (.615). Since 5/19, Across all Diamondbacks minor leaguers, the former Miami Hurricane's AVG is good for first with his OBP (.510) and OPS following suit.