In the last three games of their just-concluded road trip (a three-game series at Tulsa), the RockHounds scored three runs in three games. On Wednesday night, back home at "Rocky Town," the 'Hounds scored three runs … in the first inning.
Thanks to the early offense and an outstanding start from right-hander Dustin Hurlbutt, the RockHounds went on to a 7-1 win over the Corpus Christi Hooks in the opener of a four-game series (and homestand) at Security Bank Ballpark.
The 'Hounds "Frankenstein-ed" the first-inning hat trick. Jordan Tarsovich, B.J. Boyd and Jermaine Curtis opened the home half of the first with back-to-back-to-back singles, loading the bases. Viosergy Rosa grounded into a double play, with the game's first run scoring and J.P. Sportman ripped an RBI double into the left field corner. A throwing error by Hooks third baseman J.D. Davis allowed the third run to score.
Rosa made the score 4-0 with an opposite field home run into the left field bullpen in the third inning, his 12th home run of the season and Texas League-leading 65th RBI.
The RockHounds again loaded the bases - this time on three walks - in the fifth, with Tyler Ramirez sending a high chopper down the left field line on a 1-2 pitch to bring home two runs. Sean Murphy's ground out to second base then capped the inning and made the score 7-0. Corpus Christi would score an unearned run with two out in the ninth to avoid the shutout.
Hurlbutt, making his third Double-A start, went 5.1 scoreless innings for the win and was outstanding for the second consecutive outing. Including his July 6 start at Springfield, the right-hander has gone 11.1 consecutive shutout innings, allowing just five hits and five walks while striking out seven batters.
Tarsovich led the RockHounds with a three-hit night (3-for-5, run, double) with seven other 'Hounds collecting one hit each.
Boyd, who went 1-for-3 (run, walk) also made one of the season's best defensive plays, hauling in Davis' drive to straightaway center in the sixth. The RockHounds center fielder made the play at about 405 feet, an over-the-shoulder catch at the base of the wall in center field and looking back into the sun.
The web gem was one of perhaps a half-dozen outstanding defensive plays in the game. Rosa made a terrific catch on a line drive to first and turned it into a double play to end the fifth. Rosa made the catch then dove to the base, slapping the bag just ahead of base runner Antonio Nuñez. Hooks second baseman Jack Mayfield made a sensational bare-handed play on a ball hit back up the middle, robbing Richie Martin of a hit in the fifth.
The RockHounds broke a three-game losing streak, improved to 24-19 at home (the club is 16-30 on the road), moved to a game over .500 against the South Division (27-26 and 13-23 against the North) and are 10-7 versus Corpus Christi (6-3 at Security Bank Ballpark).
The RockHounds' roster has been at (or below) 23 players for the better part of four weeks, but the club saw a welcome addition on Wednesday with infielder Jermaine Curtis rejoining the club from Triple-A Nashville. He hit .254 in 22 games for the Sounds. Curtis is making his second appearance with the RockHounds in 2017. He opened the season with Nashville, but played in just two games in April with the Sounds before being sidelined by injury. He joined the RockHounds on May 31 from extended spring training and hit .357 (17-for-46) in 13 games before being promoted to the Pacific Coast League Sounds.
Signed by Oakland as a minor league free agent last November, he was originally drafted by St. Louis (out of UCLA) in the fifth round of the 2008 draft. He played for the Cardinals through 2014, including five games in the Major Leagues in 2013 and spent the past two seasons at Triple-A Louisville in the Cincinnati organization. Curtis was a non-roster invitee to the A's Spring Training camp.
The RockHounds and Hooks continue their four-game series on Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. for Thirsty Thursday at Security Bank Ballpark.
The series at Rocky Town also includes Addison Russell bobbleheads on Friday and postgame fireworks on Saturday.
Wednesday's games across the Texas League began what is, annually, the most grueling portion of the schedule: a stretch consisting of 26 games in 26 days from July 12 to August 6.
Thursday's probable starters are righty Brock Dykxhoorn (3-4, 4.41 ERA) for the Hooks and southpaw A.J. Puk (0-2, 6.08 ERA) for the 'Hounds.
Dykxhoorn was selected by the Houston Astros in the sixth round of the 2014 draft out of Central Arizona College in Coolidge, AZ. The 22-year-old Canadian from Delhi, Ontario, makes his 16th appearance (12th start) for Corpus Christi and his second against the RockHounds. His previous start versus the 'Hounds was a 12-3 loss at Security Bank Ballpark on May 3 (2.2 IP, 6 H, 7 R/7 ER, 4 BB, 4 K). Dykxhoorn's season line (15 G / 11 GS): 65.1 IP, 72 H, 28 BB, 57 K (1.53 WHIP, .282 average against, 2.04 K/BB ratio).
Puk makes his fourth start for the RockHounds since being promoted from Stockton of the Class-A Advanced California League. Rated the Oakland A's #2 prospect by both Baseball America and MLB.com, Puk was selected by the A's with the sixth overall pick in the 2016 draft out of the University of Florida. He missed his last scheduled turn in the 'Hounds rotation after being named to the 2017 All-Star Futures Game, which was held last Sunday at Marlins Park in Miami. The showcase event is held in conjunction with the Major League All-Star Game. Puk's RockHounds season line (three starts): 13.1 IP, 11 H, 9 BB, 12 K (1.50 WHIP, .239 average against, 1.33 K/BB ratio).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.