Amarillo Thunderheads Lower the Bomb on Laredo in 9-1 Win
New name, new results. The Amarillo Thunderheads (formerly the Amarillo Sox) opened the 2015 American Association League season against Laredo and showed that their name is not the only thing new in Texas this season. Riding the arm of Matt Larkins and a brutal 15-hit attack the Thunderheads lowered the boom on the Laredo Lemurs in the 9-1 opening day victory.
Greg Holle started for Laredo and he pitched well in the first, retiring the side in order on 11 pitches. In the second Amarillo battered the Lemurs starter for five runs. With one out Danny Stienstra walked, and Jason Martin followed with a single that sent Stienstra to third. Juan Martinez walked to load the bases, bringing catcher Jordan Guida to the plate. Guida took the first offering from Holle and lined it into center field for a single. That scored Stienstra and Martin to put Amarillo up 2-0. Taylor Smart then came to bat and, like Guida, he took the first pitch from the Laredo starter and ripped it to the wall for a triple. That brought home Martinez and Guida, increasing the lead to 4-0. Three batters later Drew Heid drove home Smart with a single to make it a five-run lead.
That was plenty enough support for the Amarillo staff on this night. Larkins was on his game, allowing just five runners (4 H, 1 W) to reach base in his five innings of work. The only trouble he faced came in the fifth when he gave up a lead-off single and a walk two batters later. However he struck out the final batter of the inning to preserve his five scoreless innings of work.
The Thunderheads had given their starter a nice cushion to work with, but they increased that lead in the fourth and sixth innings. In the fourth Geraldo Valentin singled to drive home Logan Vick, who had singled one batter earlier and stole second to get into scoring position. In the sixth Rene Leveret singled to score Smart and Stienstra followed with a single plating Heid.
It was 8-0 before the Laredo Lemurs would finally get on the scoreboard. That occurred against reliever Rigaberto Arrebato who gave up a run-scoring single to Byron Wiley that brought home Abel Nieves.
The Amarillo Thunderheads bullpen proved to be as outstanding as their starter had been. Brooks Pinckard, Kyle Bellows, and Randy Hamrick finished the last 3.1 innings of the game, allowing no hits and 3 walks. It was a great performance by the staff.
Amarillo added one more run in the ninth inning. Smart’s double scored Martin who had singled earlier in the inning. For Smart it was his fourth hit of the game. He also scored two runs and drove home three others. Martin, Martinez, and Heid had two hits apiece for the Amarillo Thunderheads.
Larkins (1-0) earned his first win of the season, while Holle (0-1) took the loss.
These two teams continue their four-game series Friday night. Game time is 7:30.
By Robert Pannier