Amarillo Sod Poodles second baseman Jancarlos Cintron (9) is greeted by teammates after hitting a grand slam during Amarillo’s 7-5 win against Corpus Christi at Hodgetown on Sunday night. [John Moore/ Press Pass Sports]
By Lee Passmore
So far at home in 2021, it’s been a break-even proposition for the Amarillo Sod Poodles.
Considering the way things have been going, that might not be so bad.
In only their second series of the season at Hodgetown which concluded Sunday, the Sod Poodles lost three of their first four games to the Corpus Christi Hooks. But they bounced back over the weekend, winning two games by identical 7-5 scores to salvage their second series split of the season in as many tries at Hodgetown.
“Any time you fall behind a couple of games and you lose three out of four to come out and salvage a split is huge,” Sod Poodles manager Shawn Roof said. “The guys continue to battle the whole time. This is a good win to celebrate and enjoy going into the off day.”
Whereas the Soddies had to rally for Saturday’s win by closing the game with seven unanswered runs, they got out in front Sunday and held on for the win. With one out in the bottom of the second, they got to Corpus starter Brett Daniels and knocked him out after taking a 5-0 lead.
Renae Martinez drew a bases-loaded walk to bring home the first run, then Jancarlos Cintron made an even bigger impact. Cintron hammered one deep over the left field fence for a grand slam which cleared the bases for a 5-0 lead and sent Daniels to the showers.
The slam stretched Cintron’s hitting streak to six games with the Sod Poodles. After being recalled to Amarillo on June 9 following a brief promotion the Triple-A Reno, Cintron is hitting .333 with seven runs and six RBIs. His grand slam was timely as his first homer of the season.
“I knew I hit it well,” Cintron said. “I was just trying to put the ball in play and hit it hard and luckily I got a homer. I’m just trying to play ball hard, that’s my goal every day. I like this stadium. It’s a nice facility and I’m looking forward to get going out here.”
The Sod Poodles added an unearned run off reliever off Layne Henderson in the second, but after that managed only an RBI single by Stone Garrett to drive home Jake McCarthy in the fifth for a 7-0 lead. Another reason they were in such comfortable position was right-handed starter Luis Frias.
Five days after suffering the loss to the Hooks in the series opener, Frias looked like a different pitcher. He retired the first nine hitters in order and didn’t allow a hit in the first four innings.
Corpus Christi’s David Hensley ruined a scoreless game for Frias with a two-run homer in the sixth. However, Frias had done enough by going 5 2/3 innings and striking out nine with no walks for the victory.
“When you play in the World Series and the playoffs in the big leagues you’re going to play a seven-game series so you have to learn to make adjustments,” Roof said. “I thought (Frias) was under control of his tempo a lot more tonight. When he’s under control he’s got a big-time arm and he can do what he needs to do to throw strikes. He was getting the ball and he was attacking and when he does that good things happen.”
Relievers Mitchell Osnowitz and Edgar Arredondo closed it out and combined to give up three solo homers. There was an uneasy moment with two outs in the top of the ninth when Arredondo gave up back-to-back bombs to Corey Julks and Scott Manea, but he struck out Zach Biermann to preserve the win.
Amarillo Sod Poodles outfielder Stone Garrett has hit safely in his last seven games. [John Moore/ Press Pass Sports]
The Soddies seem to have found a productive offensive combo near the top of the lineup, as McCarthy and Garrett hit back-to-back in the lineup for most of the series against the Hooks in either the Nos. 2 and 3 or 3 and 4 spots with productive results.
That was never more apparent than in Wednesday’s 19-4 win as the Sod Poodles set franchise records for hits (20) and runs in a game. McCarthy, hitting in the second spot, doubled and tripled in his first two at-bats, then hit a three-run homer in the third, leaving him a mere single short of the cycle with six innings to go.
Alas, McCarthy was hitless in his final three at-bats.
“I’d be lying if I said wasn’t in the back of my mind,” McCarthy said. “Everyone’s busting me in the dugout about it. The hard ones were out of the way. That’s what happens when you get too big. I don’t want to punch out my last two at bats but that’s the way it is.”
By the end of the third inning that night, the Sod Poodles had scored 15 runs and every player had at least one hit. Garrett, who has a team-high seven-game hitting streak, ended the scoring with a two-run homer in the sixth and needed a triple for the cycle, but also couldn’t quite manage it.
He feels the lineup is becoming more cohesive which helps each hitter individually.
“I would say hitting’s contagious,” Garrett said. “You see the guy in front of you get a hit and it makes you believe in yourself a little bit more to get a hit. To be honest I wasn’t even aware that I was a triple shy of the cycle until after the game.”
Batting around, and around, and around
In Wednesday’s win, the Soddies got seven runs each in the second and third innings and sent 11 men to the plate both times. In Sunday’s second inning, they sent 10 men to the plate, giving them three epic offensive innings after struggling on the road most of the previous series at Frisco.
“You see guys laying off pitches they should lay off,” Roof said. “We just talk about passing the baton and take what the other team gives us, get on base and keep the ball moving. You send 10 to the plate it’s going to help you score some runs.”
Fans packed the ballpark all weekend at Hodgetown. [John Moore/ Press Pass Sports]
In their six games against Corpus, the Sod Poodles drew 33,906 fans. The last three games, over 6,000 fans each were at Hodgetown, a streak the club will try to extend Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. at the start of a six-game series hosting the Midland RockHounds.
Midland visited Hodgetown for the first home series of the season in May, and the teams split the series.
On the year, the Sod Poodles have totaled 67,849 fans.
Check out the latest Double A Central League standings below.
Sod Squad struggle on recent road trip
It wasn’t the best of ways to start the Amarillo Sod Squad‘s first road trip of the summer.
The Sod Squad had a rough week going 1-3, splitting a series at Brazos Valley before being swept by Victoria in back-to-back games Friday and Saturday.
Amarillo is now 6-5 overall in the Texas Collegiate League, sitting three and a half games behind first place San Antonio (10-2).
The lone victory over the past week came last Thursday for the Sod Squad with a 3-2 win against Brazos Valley. Tascosa graduate and Florida Atlantic pitcher Jack Stroud earned the win going four innings with five strikeouts. Stroud has been Amarillo’s ace during the young season going 3-0, and has yet to allow a run in 10 innings racking up 13 K’s.
Outfielder Samuel Tormos has highlighted the Sod Squad at the plate. Tormos was a combined 7-for-19 over the last four contests driving in five RBIs. Through 11 games so far, Tormos leads the TCL boasting a .391 average, adding two homers and nine RBIs.
The Sod Squad stay on the road opening a two-game series with Victoria at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday night.