In American Association Daily, we recap the exciting games around the American Association, as it was the season opener for 10 of the 12 teams around the league. Exciting games included a walk-off victory for the Cleburne Railroaders, a three homerun night for the Sioux Falls Canaries, and James Dykstra combining with two relievers to shut out the Lincoln Saltdogs. Read the recaps by Robert Pannier.
RedHawks Hang on for 7-5 Victory Over AirHogs
The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks opened the season on the road, traveling to Texas to take on the AirHogs where they held for the 7-5 victory. The RedHawks scored all of their runs within the first four frames of the game, rebounding after Texas scored four runs in the bottom the first to earn the victory. Both Tommy Mendonca and Keury De La Cruz had 3-hits for Fargo-Moorhead and Randy McCurry earned his first save of the season.
The RedHawks got on the board first with two runs in the top of the first. Brennan Metzger started the frame with a double. Two batters later, Devan Ahart was hit by pitch before Randolph Oduber singled to score Metzger, giving his team a 1-0 lead. Two batters later, Keury De La Cruz lined a single into center that scored Ahart to make it a two-run lead.
Texas responded with four runs in the bottom half of the inning. Casio Grider walked to start the frame, then stole second before Lu Zhenhong lined a triple to the wall. Dillon Thomas followed with a triple of his own, tying the game. Stewart James followed with a double that brought home Thomas, and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Greg Golson, making it 4-2.
Fargo-Moorhead would retake the lead in the top of the second. Leobaldo Pina led off the inning with a base hit. Maikol Gonzalez drew a walk and both runners would move into scoring position on a groundout. With two down, Oduber delivered a clutch base hit that scored Pina, and Gonzalez came home on a single by Mendonca. Charlie Valerio would drive home the third run of the inning, all of which came with two outs, to make it 5-4.
In the fourth, the RedHawks extended their lead to three. Mendonca singled with one out and came around to score on a triple by De La Cruz. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Valerio to make it 7-4.
The AirHogs would get one of those runs back in the bottom of the sixth. Back to back walks to Ryan Wagner and Chen Chen started the inning, with Wegner scoring on a sacrifice fly by Grider. That cut the deficit to two, but Texas would get no closer.
Travis Ballew (1-0) would earn the victory for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks with 1.1 innings of relief. In the ninth, Randy McCurry came on and allowed two hits before retiring the final batter of the game for his first save of the season.
Tommy Mendonca and Keury De La Cruz were both 3-4 in the contest, with De La Cruz and Charlie Valerio each driving in two runs for the RedHawks. Dillon Thomas and Lu Zhenhong both had 2-hits, a run, and an RBI for the AirHogs.
Catch Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks Manager Michael Schlact on Pitcher’s Eye
Axel Johnson Gives Railroaders Opening Night Walk-Off Victory, 3-2
There is nothing like a walk-off victory to start the season, but when you can do it against the reigning American Association champions it’s so much sweeter. The Cleburne Railroaders did just that, as Axel Johnson’s RBI double in the ninth gave his team a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Goldeyes. A scoreless tie through six, saw both teams score in the seventh. Reynaldo Rodriquez tied the score in the top of the eighth for Winnipeg with his first home run of the season. In the bottom of the ninth, Michael Pair walked with one down and scored when Johnson drilled a double into the gap that brought him all the way around from first. Johnson finished with 2-RBI on the night.
Zach Nehrir Drives in 3 in Wingnuts 8-2 Victory
Before a crowd of well over 4,000, the Wichita Wingnuts fell behind 2-0 before scoring eight unanswered runs in their 8-2 victory over the Kansas City T-Bones. Zach Nehrir had the big night for Wichita, going 3-4 with 2-runs while driving in 3. Abel Nieves also had 3-hits and he scored 2-runs. Four errors by the T-Bones defense led to five unearned runs and Travis Banwart struck out 8 in 5-innings of work for his first victory of the season. In all, the Wingnuts pitching staff struck out 14.
Listen to Wichita Wingnuts Manager Brent Clevlen on Ring’Em Up
Long Ball Helps Canaries Ruin Dogs Debut, 9-5
The Chicago Dogs traveled to South Dakota to take on the Sioux Falls Canaries, but it was the home team that was soaring, blasting three home runs on their way to a 9-5 victory. A 7-run fifth inning proved to be too much for Chicago to overcome, as a three run homer by Burt Reynolds was the decisive blow in the frame. Ty Morrison also hit a home run, as did Jabari Henry who picked up right where he left off from 2017, when he led the American Association with 29 homers. Henry finished with 3-hits. Grady Wood (1-0) earned the victory, striking out seven in five innings of work. Kyle Gaedele homered for Chicago, the first in the team’s history.
James Dykstra, Two Relievers Combine to Blank Saltdogs, 6-0
A night after earning a dramatic ninth inning victory over the Lincoln Saltdogs, the Sioux City Explorers rode the arm of James Dykstra (1-0) to a 6-0 victory. The right-hander blanked Lincoln for 6-innings, and Parker Markel and Tyler Fallwell combined to throw three scoreless innings of the relief for the first shutout of the 2018 American Association season. Daniel Jackson led the way for the offense, going 2-3 with a run and an RBI.
Join Sioux City Explorers Manager Steve Montgomery for Mound Talk
Seven Run Second Too Much for Saints to Overcome, 10-5
The Gary Southshore RailCats proved that they know how to respond, giving up two runs in the top of the second before scoring seven in the bottom half of the frame on their way to a 10-5 victory over the St. Paul Saints. Cole Fabio had a two run double in the decisive inning and Reggie Wilson had three of the 12 hits that the RailCats would rap out on this evening. The loss ruined a 3-4 night by Kes Carter, who also homered in the game.
Listen to Strike Zone with St. Paul Saints Manager George Tsamis
American Association Daily Notes
The Chicago Dogs signed catcher Alex Lugo…the Gary Southshore RailCats signed OFs Chris Bruno and D.K. Carey, as well as C/IF Jeff Sneed. Sneed appeared in 3 games for Gary last season, going 1-5 with a run scored. Carey has been in the Washington Nationals system the last four seasons, reaching High-A Potomac the last two years. He hit .229 in 67 games in 2017, with 25 runs scored and 21 RBI…The Lincoln Saltdogs re-signed Brian Smith, who had been released by the team four days earlier.
Join Kevin Luckow and Robert Pannier for This Week in the Association
By Robert Pannier
Member of the IBWAA