Amarillo’s Dominic Fletcher hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 12th to lift the Sod Poodles past Midland, 3-2, on Thursday night at Hodgetown. [John Moore/ Press Pass Sports]
By Lee Passmore
Through two games at Hodgetown, fans of the Amarillo Sod Poodles can’t complain about getting their money’s worth.
After a rain-delayed home opener which lasted only seven innings, the Soddies returned Wednesday night for the second game of their six-game series with the Midland RockHounds, and as if to compensate, gave the 4,833 fans gathered free baseball.
The result was the same as the first night though. With two outs in the bottom of the 12th, Dominic Fletcher singled home placed runner Alek Thomas from third base for a 3-2 victory which made them 2-0 on the homestand.
Following a game in which the Sod Poodles found the power alleys, both teams struggled at the plate for the most part Wednesday night, which continued a trend for Midland (6-8). Ryan Weiss and Justin Lewis combined for seven one-hit shutout innings the night before, and the Soddies were almost as stout on the hill in the second game.
Left-hander Tyler Holton threw four shutout innings and struck out eight while giving up only one hit. Jeff Bain came on in relief and gave up a run on Logan Davidson’s RBI double in the top of the sixth to make it 1-0, the only earned run the Sod Poodles have given up so far this year at Hodgetown.
In the bottom of the inning, Jarett Rindfleisch hit a towering solo home run to left, his second in as many nights, to tie the game at 1-1.
That’s the way it stayed until the 11th, when both teams scored a run to make it 2-2. Soddies reliever Matt Gage was charged with an unearned run (all placed runners who score in extra innings are unearned), and left after the 11th, and Edgar Arredondo retired all three batters in the top of the 12th.
Thomas, who made the last out in the 11th, started the 12th on second base. He went to third on Jake McCarthy’s groundout, then with two outs, Fletcher singled Zack Erwin’s 2-0 pitch to left to bring home Thomas and end it.
“I think we had them on the ropes a couple of times,” said Fletcher, the only player in the game who had two hits. “Our pitchers did a good job coming out scoreless in a couple of those innings and after they put up a zero we had a good shot that inning. I was looking out over the plate and looking to shoot something the other way.”
Better late than never
Wednesday’s game ended at 10:46 p.m., which was only a half-hour later than Tuesday’s game started. It wasn’t the ideal way for the Sod Poodles to open a home season after the cancellation of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 following the auspicious return of affiliated baseball to Amarillo after a 37-year absence with a Texas League championship in 2019.
Sod Poodles president and general manager Tony Ensor was happy to make the best of a bad situation.
“Obviously when the Sod Poodles haven’t been at home for 615 days, you’re really anxious,” Ensor said. “Our fan base was anxious to get that game in, our players were anxious and our staff was anxious to get that ball game in. Certainly you don’t want to have weather like that any day, but especially on Opening Day. It was a little disappointing, but we were able to get the ball game in and came out with a great win.”
Wednesday’s crowd wasn’t as big as Tuesday’s, at least before the rain delays hit, but Ensor considered it respectable under the circumstances.
“We’ve got a lot of things going on right now,” Ensor said. “It’s still a bit chilly. We had a great crowd tonight with 4,800 people on a Wednesday. You aren’t going to see too many crowds that size in any part of minor league baseball so it was a great crowd. They were into it and they got to see a great ball game.”
Sod Poodles 3, RockHounds 2, 12 innings
Midland 000 001 000 010 – 2 5 1
Amarillo 000 001 000 011 – 3 7 0
Chase Cohen, Jared Koenig (3), Jesus Zambrano (7), Eric Marinez (9), Zach Jackson (10), Zack Erwin (12) and Collin Theroux. Tyler Holton, Jeff Bain (5), Matt Gage (9), Edgar Arredondo (12) and Dominic Miroglio. W— Arredondo 4-0. L— Erwin 1-2. 2B— Midland: Logan Davidson, Marty Bechina. Amarillo: Dominic Fletcher. HR – Amarillo: Jarett Rindfleisch. Records: Amarillo 9-5, Midland 6-8.