Missions edge RockHounds, 4-3 to even series

(Matthew Barnett)

By Bob Hards / Midland RockHounds | September 8, 2017 12:01 AM ET

The San Antonio Missions jumped out to a 4-1 lead and staved off a Midland RockHounds comeback to take Game 2 of the 2017 Texas League South Division Series, 4-3 on Thursday night at Nelson Wolff Stadium.

On the second pitch of the game on Thursday night, RockHounds leadoff batter Jorge Mateo sent a line drive to the right side. San Antonio first baseman Noah Perio made a terrific catch taking a potential leadoff hit away from Mateo and keeping one of Minor League baseball's fastest players off the base paths. While perhaps not a "web gem," the play set the tone for the game, one in which the defensive was exceptional and a handful of plays turned the game.

In the last of the first, Fernando Tatis Jr. led off with an 0-2 single and Luis Urias' sharp grounder up the first base line struck the bag and kicked into right field, putting runners at the corners with no outs. The RockHounds turned a double play when Mateo handled a ball up the middle that deflected off the glove of pitcher James Naile. The Missions took the lead on the play but the 1-6-3 limited the damage to 1-0.

Doubles by Viosergy Rosa and J.P. Sportman (RBI) in the second tied the game, but the Missions took the lead again in the third. Perio's leadoff single was followed by a Franmil Reyes double, putting runners at second and third with no outs, and Ty France's RBI single broke the tie, still with no outs. Mateo then started another double play, this one an outstanding 6-4-3, on a chopper to short. Again, a run scored but the double play helped put the brakes on what might have been a big inning, leaving the Missions on top, 3-1. 

After a Javier Guerra double and an RBI single from Urias pushed the lead to 4-3 in the fourth, singles from Sportman, Jordan Tarsovich and Mateo against Missions starter Brett Kennedy cut the lead to 4-2 in the fifth and a walk to Max Schrock loaded the bases. Guerra then made the play of the game (and perhaps of the series so far) making a brilliant catch on Jermaine Curtis' laser toward left field. With two out and Mateo the runner at second, the catch almost certainly saved two runs and ended the inning. 

Rosa, who was on deck when Guerra pulled his grand larceny on Curtis, then led off the sixth by launching his third home run and ninth RBI of the series with a solo shot to right-center. The blast, which made the score 4-3, would provide the game's final run.

As good as the defense was, the bullpens were every bit as sensational. After Brandon Mann, who relieved Naile in the fourth, gave up a single to the first batter he faced, Mann, Tyler Sturdevant and Sam Bragg combined to retire the last 13 Missions batters of the game. San Antonio's bullpen was equally effective, with Eric Yardley, Brad Wieck and Trey Wingenter going the last 3.2 innings, allowing only one base runner.

Quick Notes:

The Missions win ensures the teams will play Friday and Saturday at Security Bank Ballpark at 7:00 p.m. each night. If a fifth game is necessary, the clubs would return to Nelson Wolff Stadium in San Antonio on Sunday at 6:05 p.m. 

In the first two games of the series, Viosergy Rosa is 5-for-9, with two doubles, three home runs and nine RBI.

In three regular season starts against the RockHounds at Nelson Wolff Stadium, Brett Kennedy allowed one run on 10 hits over 19 innings. The 'Hounds did get to Kennedy for three runs on seven hits in 5.1 innings on Thursday, although Kennedy got the win. Kennedy led the Texas League with 13 wins in the regular season.     

As the playoffs begin, the RockHounds are without B.J. Boyd, who is away from the club on a family matter. If the situation allows, he can return to the 'Hounds and to the playoff roster. 

The Oakland A's have assigned pitcher Joseph Camacho to the playoff roster in Boyd's absence. The El Paso, Texas native was signed by the A's as a non-drafted free agent in June 2016 after an outstanding collegiate career at Alabama State University. Camacho spent the 2017 at Class-A Beloit, going 3-3 with a 2.75 ERA in 18 games with the Snappers. 

2017 Texas League South Division Series - Game 3:

Missions LHP Joey Lucchesi (5-3, 1.79 ERA)

RockHounds RHP Grant Holmes (11-12, 4.49 ERA)

Lucchesi was selected by the San Diego Padres in the fourth round of the 2016 draft out of Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri after leading all of NCAA Division I in strikeouts as a senior (10-5, 2.19 ERA with 149 K's). He opened the 2017 season with the Lake Elsinore Storm of the Class-A Advanced California League and put up outstanding numbers in the hitter-friendly league. In 39 career appearances (33 starts), the left-hander owns a 1.99 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP and has held opposing batters to a .201 average. He made three appearances (two starts) against the RockHounds, earning a save in the non-start. The 24-year-old is rated San Diego's #24 prospect by Baseball America and #19 by MLB.com,  

Holmes opened the season with ERA's of 6.27 in April and 5.52 in May, finishing the first half 5-6 with a 5.45 ERA. Of his last 17 games (16 starts), four were clearly not good, one was somewhere "in the middle" and the other 12 could be considered anywhere from "quality" to "outstanding." His final regular season standing among Texas League pitchers mirrors the last 17 games. While he shared the league lead in with 12 losses and 61 walks, his 150 K's won him the Texas League strikeout title and he leads all Texas League starters with a 9.02 K/9 IP K / 9 IP. Acquired by the A's from the Los Angeles Dodgers in last year's Josh Reddick trade, the Conway, South Carolina native is rated Oakland's #6 prospect by Baseball America and #3 by MLB.com. He was originally selected by the Dodgers in the first round (22nd overall) of the 2014 draft out of Conway High School. 

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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