Game 1 – Missions lose 3-2 in the seventh
Ekstrom has strong day on the mound and at the plate in Missions loss
A walk, a single and then a blown save by Missions closer Edwin Moreno spoiled a standout performance by starting pitcher Mike Ekstrom, the Madfriars’ Pitcher of the Year in 2006, in San Antonio.
After giving up a lead run in the first inning, Ekstrom held the Corpus Christi Hooks scoreless for the next five innings before allowing the first two runners on in the top of the seventh [make up games in the Texas League are two seven-inning games].
“Nick and I were just on the same page, the slider was pretty sharp and I was able to get them chasing out of the zone,” said a subdued Ekstrom.
Additionally, in the bottom of the second with two outs, Ekstrom doubled in the go-ahead run with a towering drive to left-center to give the Missions a 2-1 advantage. The Texas League is the first league where pitchers get to hit after having the designated hitter at the levels below.
“That was my first hit of the year, and I had struck out the last four times in a row, so I’m really happy to add to my career three base hits,” said Ekstrom, who did crack a smile when discussing his batting exploits.
After that inning, the Missions were unable to mount an attack throughout the game, as the Hook’s pitchers held the Missions to only four hits.
After allowing the first two runners on, Missions manager Randy Ready went to his closer Edwin Moreno who allowed a double and a sacrifice play before closing out the inning.
The Hooks closer came and closed out San Antonio with a 1-2-3 inning.
“Ekstrom pitched great all game long,” said Ready. “He walked the leadoff guy which is kind of the kiss of death. We brought Eddie in and looking for some strikeouts and the game just kind of got away from us.”
Game 2 – Missions shut out Hooks 4-0
The “Non-Prospect” shuts out Corpus Christi and Venable deliverers with the bat and glove
Pitcher Dirk Hayhurst writes a semi-regular column for Baseball America entitled “Non-Prospect Diary” which chronicles his life in the minor leagues. In the “Diary” Hayhurst portrays the daily grind of life in the minor leagues for someone who is not a top prospect.
Last night, the “non-prospect” got his first start of the season and shutout the Hooks for five strong innings allowing only two hits and no walks against two strikeouts.
Hayhurst fought through a bad case of food poisoning the night before which was compounded by a line drive that landed in his upper thigh area just missing….well this is a family site and you have the idea.
“I was walking up and down the dugout between innings trying to stay lose,” said Hayhurst from a reclining position after the game. “Tonight I had a good slider and a decent change that was working, which made my fastball more effective. I’m not the kind of guy who when I get behind can just dial up and throw it down the middle because I’m going to lose.
“I had enough control today with all of my pitches to keep guys off-balance which was the key to my success.”
In the bottom of the second, the Missions rallied with back-to-back singles by first baseman Tim Brown and shortstop Brett Dowdy while the “non-prospect” bunted towards third but the Hook’s pitcher made an error to give the Missions bases loaded with one out. Second baseman Matt Antonelli then drew a walk on a 3-2 count to bring in the first run of the game. Right-fielder Will Venable ended the rally by hitting into 6-4-3 double play.
In the bottom of the fifth, Venable redeemed himself by hitting his eighth home run of the year with a two-run blast to right field, bringing in Antonelli who reached base on an infield single.
Left-fielder Chad Huffman misjudged a line drive to left field in the sixth, which ended up a double by the Hook’s third baseman. Venable saved the day with a spectacular leaping grab against the right field wall, which prevented the Hooks from a big inning.
In the bottom of the sixth the Missions loaded the bases with a single, double and an intentional walk, and Antonelli continued his perfect night, two walks an infield single, with a deep sacrifice fly to left on the first pitch he saw.
Paul Abraham came in to close the game in the seventh inning and struck out the side to preserve the victory for San Antonio.