RockHounds manager Fran Riordan and pitching coach Don Schulze are both dads and Beau Taylor gave them both a Father's Day gift on Sunday. Taylor's solo home run leading off the top of the ninth broke a 1-1 tie and lifted the 'Hounds to a 2-1 win over the RoughRiders in the opener of a four-game series at Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco.
The tie-breaking home run could not have come at a better time. With the RockHounds bullpen running on empty, the prospect of extra innings was the last thing the club wanted. Taylor's swing took care of that.
Video: Beau Taylor homers for the RockHounds
The contest was a "tale of two games," with the teams locked in a scoreless tie through five innings. Both clubs scored and left the bases loaded in the sixth. With the two out and no one on, Tyler Marincov, Viosergy Rosa and Taylor came through with back-to-back-to-back singles to put the RockHounds on the board. The RoughRiders answered on an RBI double from Luke Tendler, his third hit of the game (he had three of Frisco's first four hits).
Before Taylor's dramatic swing, the RockHounds escaped a major Frisco threat in the seventh. Leadoff batter Isiah Kiner-Falefa reached on a line drive that deflected off pitcher Lou Trivino. Kiner-Falefa then stole second, still with no outs and Luis Marte singled up the middle. Shortstop Richie Martin made a sliding play on the Marte single behind the bag at second, preventing Kiner-Falefa from advancing. Michael De Leon then reached on a sacrifice bunt and a fielder's choice, when Trivino's throw was too late to get Kiner-Falefa at third. With the bases loaded and no outs, Trivino struck Jose Cardona out on three pitches, then Martin and Max Schrock (in his first game back from the disabled list) turned an inning-ending double play. The "keystone combination" played outstanding defense, saving at least two runs.
Taylor took Brady Feigle's first pitch of the ninth inning out on a line drive over the right field wall and Carlos Navas, after yielding a flair single to leadoff batter Royce Bolinger, pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save.
With the win, the RockHounds assured themselves of at least a .500 first half as they are 35-34 with one to play and coupled with San Antonio's 2-1 win at Corpus Christi, guaranteed a second-place finish in the first half race.
Sunday's game was the opener of an eight-game road trip which will see the end of the Texas League first half and the start of the second half pennant race.
Yairo Munoz saw an 11-game hit streak come to an end and Max Schrock - playing for the first time in 19 days - lost a nine-gamer that began on May 16.
Kenny Wilson drew a sixth-inning walk to extend his on-base streak to eight games (8-for-21, .381 batting average). He also drawn four walks and has been hit by two pitches, as he has reached base in 14 of his last 27 trips to the plate for a .519 on-base percentage.
Reliever Lou Trivino is now tied for the Texas League lead in wins with seven.
The RockHounds and RoughRiders close the first half the Texas League season on Monday night at Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. with radio coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday's game between the 'Hounds and Riders will mark the start of the second half. The clubs also meet Wednesday afternoon at 12:05 p.m. before the RockHounds travel to San Antonio for a four-game series (June 22-25) with the first half champion Missions.
RHP Collin Wiles (5-3, 3.72 ERA) will be Frisco's starting pitcher on Monday night. The 23-year-old Kansas native is a sixth-year pro, who spent his first two seasons at the Rookie and Short-A levels, and was selected by the Texas Rangers in the first round of the 2012 draft (53rd overall) out of Blue Valley West High School out of Overland Park, Kansas. Wiles, who ranks ninth in the Texas League with a 3.72 ERA, makes his third start against the RockHounds (1-0, 3.55 ERA, 12.2 IP, 16 H, 5 R/5 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 1.42 WHIP and .327 opponent average).
For the RockHounds, A.J. Puk will make his Double-A debut on Monday night. The left-hander, Oakland's first round selection in the 2016 draft (sixth overall) out of the University of Florida, will be added to the roster Monday.
Rated Oakland's #2 prospect by both Baseball America and MLB.com, Puk opened the season - his first full pro year - with the Stockton Ports of the Class-A Advanced California League. He went 4-5 with a 3.69 ERA (14 games/11 starts), allowing just 44 hits in 61innings, walking 23 and striking out 98. His line with Stockton includes a .196 opponent batting average, a 1.10 WHIP and a 4.3:1 strikeouts to walks ratio, averaging 14.46 K's per 9 IP. A native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, who makes his home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Puk turned 22 on April 25.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.