When an opportunity presents itself, especially against an outstanding opponent, "cashing in" is critical. The RockHounds had solid scoring chances in each of the two innings on Friday night, but failed to take advantage. San Antonio, on the other hand, came up with key hits, made the 'Hounds pay for a pair of defensive miscues and went on to blow the game open in a 9-0 win that puts the Missions one victory away from a trip to the Texas League Championship Series.
The RockHounds got back-to-back singles from Max Schrock and Jermaine Curtis with one out in the first and had Viosergy Rosa at the plate. Rosa, who had three home runs and nine RBI in the first two games of the series, grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. The 'Hounds, facing outstanding left-hander Joey Lucchesi , then got a leadoff single from J.P. Sportman in the second, but Lucchesi picked Sportman off first base.
After going up and down in order in the first two innings, the Missions broke the scoreless tie in the third. Webster Rivas doubled on Grant Holmes' first pitch of the frame and scored moments later when Auston Bousfield 's sacrifice bunt was compounded by an error. Third baseman Sheldon Neuse made the play and threw to first, but first baseman Rosa and second baseman Schrock miscommunicated on who was to cover the bag and the throw sailed by (Neuse, thanks to the rule book, is charged with the error). Javier Guerrafollowed with an RBI single to put the Missions on top, 2-0.
Noah Perio singled with one out in the fourth and stole second, moved to third when catcher Sean Murphy 's throw sailed high and wide and then scored on an RBI single from Nick Schulz .
San Antonio doubled its lead in the fifth with Fernando Tatis Jr. leading off with a single and Josh Naylor drawing a walk. Carlos Navas relieved Holmes and fell behind Franmil Reyes, 0-2. The league's regular season home run champion then blasted the next delivery to the left of the batter's eye grass berm in straightaway center field, for a three-run home run that pushed the lead to 6-0.
The 'Hounds had one more opportunity to get back in the game, loading the bases with one out in the last of the fifth, but Lucchesi struck Mateo out and got Schrock to pop out, ending the last real threat. The Missions added three more runs and Lucchesi went seven scoreless innings with T.J. Weir completing the eight-hit shutout.
The Missions need one win to advance to the Texas League Championship Series, while the RockHounds have no margin for error, needing a pair of victories to move on. The clubs play Saturday night at Security Bank Ballpark at 7:00 p.m. and if a fifth game is necessary, would return to Nelson Wolff Stadium in San Antonio on Sunday for the decisive game at 6:05 p.m.
After going 5-for-9 (two doubles, three home runs, nine RBI) in the first two games of the series, Viosergy Rosa went 0-for-4 on Friday night, beginning with the first-inning double play.
Javier Guerra didn't play in the first game of the series, but might be the MVP so far. His remarkable catch in Game 2 robbed Jermaine Curtis of a game-tying base hit (not to mention the momentum and pressure that would have come with it) and has been outstanding at the plate as well as in the field (he made a tremendous bare-handed play robbing Jorge Mateo of a hit Friday). The former #1 prospect on the Padres' farm went 2-for-5 in Game 3, with a run scored, a triple and two RBI. Guerra is 3-for-8 in the series with two runs scored, a double, triple and two RBI with a stolen base.
2017 Texas League South Division Series - Game 4:
Missions LHP Eric Lauer (4-3, 3.93 ERA)
RockHounds RHP Heath Fillmyer (11-5, 3.49)
Lauer was selected by the San Diego Padres in the first round of the 2016 draft. As a junior at Kent State University, Lauer led all of NCAA Division I with a remarkable 0.69 ERA, the lowest in D-I since 1979 (10-2, with 125 K's in 104 IP). Now rated San Diego's #13 prospect by Baseball America and #8 by MLB.com, the 22-year-old, now in his second pro season (first full year) is a native of Elyria, Ohio. He opened the 2017 season with the Lake Elsinore Storm of the Class-A Advanced California League before being promoted to the Missions on July 2. He made 10 appearances (nine starts) for San Antonio and one against the RockHounds, his last start of the regular season. On August 31, he went seven scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and no walks while striking out nine (the same game in which the RockHounds' A.J. Puk struck out 13). He combined with reliever T.J. Weir on a 5-0, four-hit shutout.
Fillmyer was Oakland's fifth round draft choice in 2014 out of Mercer Community College in West Windsor Township, New Jersey. He finished the regular season ranked fifth in the Texas League with a 3.49 ERA, tied for second with 11 wins and was one of just four pitchers with 11 or more wins. He also finished tied for fifth in with 51 walks and shared the league lead in with 29 games started. He is 6-1 with a 2.65 ERA in his last nine starts, his most recent being a 9-3 win at Frisco on September 4 (7.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R/3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K). He allowed one run through the first seven innings before giving up a two-run home run to the last batter he faced. He was 2-2 with a 2.43 ERA in seven starts against the Missions (see below). Fillmyer is rated Oakland's #15 prospect by Baseball America and currently #20 by MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.