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Vukovich Provides Late Push in Game Two Victory

D-backs' 11th-rated Prospect Clobbers Team-Leading 16th Home Run
July 20, 2023

Amarillo, Texas (July 19, 2023) – Los Pointy Boots de Amarillo traded runs with Wichita in the early going of game two of the series. After falling behind in the seventh, A.J. Vukovich led a comeback charge to snatch a two-game series lead over the Wind Surge on Wednesday night.

Amarillo, Texas (July 19, 2023) – Los Pointy Boots de Amarillo traded runs with Wichita in the early going of game two of the series. After falling behind in the seventh, A.J. Vukovich led a comeback charge to snatch a two-game series lead over the Wind Surge on Wednesday night.

For the second straight night, Wichita was able to strike first with a run in the top of the first inning. Amarillo starter Chad Patrick responded by leaving a pair of Wichita runners on base as he collected his second strikeout of the frame. Each of the first two Amarillo batters reached base highlighted by a Jordan Lawlar double to dead center, however, Amarillo was unable to match the Wichita run in their first trip to the plate.

After a 1-2-3 top of the second issued by Patrick with some help by a leaping grab by Lawlar, Amarillo wasted no time in the bottom of the inning. Deyvison De Los Santos mashed a solo shot on the first pitch he saw to lead off the inning. Two walks put two aboard but an inning-ending 1-4-3 double play meant the game would remain tied for the time being.

Wichita regained the lead with their own first-pitch solo shot in the third as the only damage done against Patrick in his third inning of work. The Amarillo right-hander retired the next three in order beginning with his fourth strikeout of the game. He was back to work after Amarillo had a three-up, three-down bottom of the third. Patrick would then work his own perfect frame, adding his fifth strikeout of the evening.

De Los Santos added his second hit of the game and was able to advance on a fielding miscue. Two batters later he came around to tie the game on a RBI single off the bat of Neyfy Castillo. Patrick added another strikeout in the fifth to give him six on the night as he worked around a one-out single to keep the game tied. The game quickly moved to the top of the sixth where Patrick was back to work. The righty surrendered his fifth hit of the game with two outs in the inning, but once again kept the Wind Surge off the scoreboard as he induced a ground out to end his start.

The first bullpen arm of the night was Wichita's Curtis Taylor who struck out the side in the bottom of the sixth. Amarillo called upon Mitchell Stumpo to relieve Patrick when Amarillo took the field in the seventh. After earning a strikeout of the first man he faced, Wichita loaded the bases on a trio of free passes. The fourth walk of the top of the seventh broke the tie and sent Conor Grammes out to the mound with one out and inheriting a bases-loaded situation. Wichita made it a two-run deficit with a RBI single before Caleb Roberts held the runner on third with his strong arm after tracking down a fly ball out on the foul line in front of the Amarillo bullpen. A hit-by-pitch with the bases still loaded meant Amarillo would head to the home half trailing by three after Grammes picked up a strikeout to keep all three Wichita runners stranded.

J.J. D'Orazio started the Amarillo comeback bid with a one-out triple before scoring on a Duzenack RBI single. Lawlar reached base to put two men on base in front of Vukovich. The D-backs' no. 11 rated prospect added to his team lead with his 16th home run of his campaign. The three-run shot propelled Amarillo back in front and sent a new Wichita pitcher to the mound. Consecutive hit batters kept the order moving and brought De Los Santos back to the plate. A fielder's choice followed by a walk loaded the bases for Los Pointy Boots. The lead would remain at just one run with Castillo grounding out on a sharply hit ball to the shortstop.

A leadoff walk was nullified by a combination of Amarillo pitchers in the eighth. A stolen base and groundout allowed the base runner to advance to third and 90-ft away from another tie game. Grammes earned the second out of the inning with a strikeout before a pitching change was made to face the top of the Wichita order. Left-hander Kyle Backhus hurled a wild pitch but a favorable bounce back to D'Orazio and a swift tag by Backhus at the plate kept the run off the board to preserve the one-run lead.

Lawlar roped his second double of the night as he collected his third hit with two outs in the eighth. Vukovich added some Amarillo insurance as he hit a RBI single to score Lawlar and give Amarillo a 7-5 lead.

Backhus was back out for the ninth inning and saw each of the first two men reach without a hit against him. Backhus struck out his first of the night before a single loaded the bases for the Wind Surge. The lefty worked out of the jam as he was able to retire each of the next two to secure the Amarillo comeback win.

Amarillo will move their attention to trying to secure at worst a series split if they are able to win their third straight over Wichita when the two clubs take the field on Thursday. RHP Luke Albright (5-3, 5.47 ERA) will get the ball for the Sod Poodles. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.


VUK NUKE: A.J. Vukovich broke out of a mini-slump in a big way. After going 1-for-16 in his previous three-plus games heading into his at-bat in the seventh inning, the no.-11 prospect swatted his team-leading 16th home run. His 16 home runs are now tied for second-most in the organization behind Ivan Melendez and his 22 home runs in 2023. Vukovich added another hit and RBI to give him 60 on the season which is now tied for the second most by a D-backs' minor leaguer with former Sod Poodle and current Reno Ace, Tristin English.

POWER SURGE: Deyvison De Los Santos started his own home run streak with a solo shot in the bottom of the second inning. His second round-tripper in as many games gives him nine on the year. The D-backs' no. 4 rated prospect is also now riding a seven-game hit streak dating back to June 29. During the span, De Los Santos is hitting .400 (12-for-30) and has five multi-hit efforts after his 2-for-4 night at the plate Wednesday. This marks his first consecutive game HR streak this season and first since leaving the yard in back-to-back games on July 30-31, 2022 with High-A Hillsboro.

OH K CHAD: Chad Patrick turned in a quality start for Amarillo on the bump. The right-hander fanned six over his 6.0 IP allowing just two runs coming on five hits. The six-strikeout performance was the most in a start for Patrick since June 14 against San Antonio when he punched out eight to set his season-high. It was Patrick's fourth quality start of the year, tying Luke Albright for the most quality starts by an Amarillo pitcher this year. All four of his quality outings have come in his last nine starts since May 27th.

THREE HITS AND YOU'RE HOT: Jordan Lawlar continues to collect hits for Amarillo. The D-backs' top-rated prospect recorded three hits, going 3-for-five with two doubles and a pair of runs scored. It was his fourth three-hit game of the year and 12th multi-hit game over his last 31 games since June 3. Over the stretch, Lawlar now has a hit in 26-of-31 with 10 doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 18 RBI, and has crossed the plate 35 times. Since hitting a season-low of .162 through his first 32 games, Lawlar is hitting .321 over his last 38 games played.

HODGE YOU DUZE: With yet another multi-hit game at HODGETOWN, Sod Poodles infielder Camden Duzenack has raised his batting average to .421 (24-for-57) in 16 games played at home this season. The Texas native also added his 12th RBI in front of the home crowd this season. Duzenack has been impressive now matter the venue, raising his season AVG to .352 through 36 Double-A games in 2023 after his 2-for-4 night on Wednesday.

NEY NOW: Despite his home run streak coming to an end at three games, Neyfy Castillo still extended his current hit streak to four games with a RBI single in the fourth. In nine games to begin July, Castillo is currently hitting .303 (10-for-33) with four home runs, three doubles, 10 RBI, and eight runs scored.

BACKEND BULLIES: Conor Grammes picked up his third win of the year while Kyle Backhus added his seventh save after combining for the final 2.2 IP to secure the win. Grammes moves to 3-2 on the season with his first win since June 1st against Springfield. The right-hander earned wins in each of his first two appearances for Amarillo to begin his Double-A tenure. Through 15 appearances this year, Grammes boasts a 3.72 ERA over 19.1 IP and has 25 strikeouts - good for a 11.8 K/9 rate to begin his Double-A career. He has 10 scoreless appearances of his 15 and has never allowed more than two earned runs in any game so far. For Backhus, the southpaw added to his team-lead in saves this year, picking up his first since June 11th on the road in Midland. Wednesday's appearance was his 30th of the year which leads all Amarillo relievers. The New Waverly, Texas native is 4-3 on the year and has now converted on seven of his 10 save opportunities. He also wields a 10+ K/9 rate at 10.6 with 46 strikeouts in 39.0 IP. Since the start of the 2022 season, Backhus ranks in the D-backs' organization with 13 saves, trailing only fellow teammate Christian Montes De Oca who had 13 a season ago and has two so far in 2023.

STANDINGS UPDATE: With Amarillo's win and the Midland Rockhounds suffering their second consecutive walk-off loss at the hands of the Corpus Christi Hooks, Amarillo now sits two games clear of Midland in the Texas League South in the second half through 17 games played. The Sod Poodles are 7-3 over the last 10 and winners of four-straight. At 46-40 on the year, Amarillo has the third-best overall record in the Texas League in 2023, trailing North Division foes Arkansas (55-30) and Tulsa (47-39).