For sheer entertainment value, it’s hard to beat the Amarillo Sod Poodles series with Frisco last week at Hodgetown, at least with how the week began.
In the end, though, it was a break-even prospect for the Soddies.
After opening the series with a pair of epic comeback wins, the Sod Poodles had to settle for a series split. They couldn’t muster comeback in the series finale Sunday afternoon, as Frisco won 12-7 to end up giving each team in the series three victories apiece on the week.
The week’s results were rather mixed for the Sod Poodles (11-10). They followed up their two major comebacks, from which they rallied from six and 10-run deficits, by struggling at the plate in a 5-1 loss on Thursday.
“I think we could have played better in all facets of the game,” Sod Poodles manager Shawn Roof said. “I’d definitely like to see out pitching be a little bit better and our defense be better. There were days when our offense picked up our pitching and that’s what good teams do.”
Frisco (11-10) took a 4-0 lead in Sunday’s finale, knocking out Soddies starter Marcos Tineo by the fourth inning. Tineo had a rough outing, giving up five runs in three innings, but three of them were unearned.
It wasn’t a stellar game for the Sod Poodles in the field, as they committed four errors.
“We pride ourselves in this organization on playing good defense and fundamentally sound baseball,” Roof said. “When you do that you give yourself a chance to win. We put ourselves behind the 8-ball today because of our defense and (Frisco) took advantage of it.”
The Sod Poodles actually ended up having a solid day at the plate, keeping with the theme for most of the series. They had 11 hits and scored six runs from the third through sixth innings to stay in the game.
A.J. Vukovich hit a two-run home run in the fifth and Jonathan Guzman did the same in the sixth to cut Frisco’s lead to 8-6. But the RoughRiders came back with three runs in the seventh to go up 11-6 and attain a comfortable cushion.
It seemed that no lead was too large to nurse in the series after the first two games. The Soddies rallied in Tuesday’s series opener for a 9-7 win after being down six runs, tying the game on Tristin English’s three-run homer and taking the lead for good on a solo shot by Deyvison De Los Santos in the eighth.
That was a mere warmup for Wednesday’s game. Frisco led by 10 runs heading into the bottom of the seventh before the Soddies rallied to tie it with seven runs in the eighth, eventually winning 12-11 in the 10th on Jordan Lawlar’s walk-off single, marking the biggest comeback victory in franchise history.
“Definitely not on back-to-back nights,” said Roof when asked if he’d witnessed anything like that in his career. “You’ve seen some comebacks and this and that. The best thing is these guys kept fighting. Even if we had some moments when we don’t play our best baseball we kept going. You have that thought process that each at-bat is important and things like that can happen.”
Aikman’s got something brewing
One of the state’s biggest sports legends came to Hodgetown on Thursday, former Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback and three-time Super Bowl winner Troy Aikman was in town to establish the presence of his beer, Eight Elite Light Lager. Prior to coming to the game, where he threw out the first pitch, Aikman made the rounds in Amarillo promoting the brand to various retailers.
Hodgetown marked the first time Aikman had been to a minor league stadium to promote the beer, and he thinks Hodgetown is fertile ground for Eight to succeed.
“I’ve been to Frisco’s park and that’s the only one I’d been to prior to coming here,” Aikman said. “This is fantastic. What a great venue for Amarillo and it’s a relatively new stadium. The minor league games I’ve been to have a great feel to them.
“I had a chance to talk to the team. These are the guys you really pull for who are that much closer to realizing a big dream and the fans who come out and support them know that. Amarillo’s a great part of the state of Texas and I think we get good feedback. This ballpark has been great for the beer and we’re going to have some hospitality.”
Aikman served as a guest bartender at Bar 352 beyond the left field fence, serving Eight to fans. The beer has been on the market for over a year and Aikman says he spent two years developing it for the public.
“I’m really proud of the beer,” Aikman said. “It’s 100 percent organic grains and we don’t have any adjuncts or fillers. We’re the only available beer which doesn’t have corn, rice, syrup or sugar. It is a better for you beer and a very clean beer.”
Lawlar redeems himself in comeback
Lawlar, the No. 1 prospect of the Soddies parent club Arizona Diamondbacks, didn’t seem like he would be a hero most of Wednesday evening, as he was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts before coming to the plate with two on in the eighth and the Soddies trailing 11-7. But Lawlar made up for that with one swing, hitting an opposite field homer the other way onto the right field berm to cut the deficit to a run.
The Sod Poodles eventually tied the game later the eighth and went into extra innings. With placed runner Ryan Bliss on second base per extra inning rules, Lawlar lined a single to right to score Bliss and cap the remarkable comeback.
“I try to treat every at-bat as its own, so I go up with the same mindset,” Lalwlar said. “It’s a clean slate, 0-for-0 for the day and I think that’s what allowed me to have success at the plate. It’s always my approach to (go the other way) and sometimes I do it better than others.”
What set up Lawlar’s heroics was three stellar relief innings by Blake Workman to keep Frisco at bay, giving Lawlar another chance in the 10th he might not have been expecting.
“I was just trying to go out there and get three outs and play good defense behind Work and give us a chance to win,” Lawlar said. “Two crazy comebacks in the last three innings is amazing. I’m just excited to be a part of it.”