“We had our chances to cash in, we just didn’t take them,” said Missions manager Randy Ready. “It was a good game; it just didn’t go as planned.”
The night started off badly for the Missions when designated hitter Nick Hundley was thrown out after mildly disagreeing with a called third strike. Hundley’s offense was to briefly shake his head at the call and as he was walking back to the dugout was thrown out.
Hundley has been thrown out of two Texas League games this seas, both by the same umpire, T.J. Newport.
The Missions then caught a break when Rockhounds’ pitcher Kevin Deaton walked the next two batters to bring up second baseman Matt Antonelli who doubled on a 2-1 pitch to left-center to drive home two.
Because the Missions were already down two position players, Drew Macias was out with a bad ankle and Luis Cruz was briefly hospitalized with flu like symptoms, the Missions were forced to use pitcher Kyle Stutes as a DH for future at-bats.
“I decided to stay with the Texas theme,” said Ready jokingly on why he selected Stutes, a native of Port Neches, Texas. “Seriously, I thought I was going to use Kyle sometime during the game and he was probably the best hitter that we had left.”
In the next inning, the Missions gave back the lead as Rockhounds catcher Anthony Recker crushed a 1-0 offering by Will Inman over the left field wall, his first of two for a two-run home run. Strangely, despite allowing the tying home run, Inman struck out the side.
It was that kind of night.
In the fourth inning, right fielder Peter Ciofrone led off the inning with a deep triple to right-center. Left fielder Chad Huffman then hit a hard shot down the left field line that the third baseman was able to stop but not control to bring home Ciofrone. Catcher Colt Morton then put the ball in nearly the same spot with a double down the left field line to put runners on second and third.
Unfortunately, the Missions were forced to bat pitcher Kyle Stutes, who was able to work the count to 3-2 before the Rockhounds pitcher got him with a high strike. The next batter, first baseman Tim Brown, was able to bring home Huffman on a sacrifice fly, despite the fact that the Rockhounds, the press box and nearly everyone in attendance believed Huffman left early.
With one out in the sixth, Ready brought in designated hitter/pitcher Stutes with two on to replace Inman who served up a single on his first pitch, but was able to get out of the inning with a diving play in right field by Ciofrone, who was playing his third different position in three days.
Brown crushed a solo home run that was last seen heading towards Mexico in the bottom of the frame.
The Rockhounds tied the game in the eighth inning when center fielder Will Venable made a mental mistake of throwing to first base instead of second which was compounded by a poor throw that put a runner on second with no outs. Big Thomas Everidge followed with a double to left center and another poor throw by Venable allowed the hefty Everidge to advance to third base on a sacrifice fly. Neil Jamison, who was brought in to relieve Stutes at the start of the inning, then unleashed a wild pitch for his fifth blown save of the year to tie the game.
Jamison came back to strike out the next two batters to limit the damage.
The Missions had a few chances to win the game before going down. The first was in the eighth inning when Ciofrone opened with a flare over the shortstop’s head and then Huffman sacrificed him over to second.
Because Hundley was thrown out of the game, the Missions were forced to bring Drew Macias, who was banged up with a bad ankle, to pitch hit. Macias somehow beat out an infield single to the right side to put runners on first and third with one out. Brown, however, hit into an inning ending double play to end the rally.
In the top of the eleventh, Rockhounds catcher Anthony Recker hit his second home run of the night over the left field foul pole to put the Rockhounds ahead. Rockhounds center fielder Vince Faison, the Padres former #1 draft pick in 1999, then beat out an infield single. The Missions prevented a big inning by the Rockhounds when Chad Huffman made a strong throw to the cutoff man shortstop Brett Dowdy on a double that got by a diving Venable to cut down Faison at the plate.
In the bottom of the eleventh, Brown opened with a single to right field and was sacrificed over by Dowdy. Antonelli then beat out an infield single to give the Missions runners at first and third again with one out. Venable then just missed hitting a game wining drive down the right field line before striking out.
Third baseman Chase Headley, the Texas League player of the year, who was supposed to be at least another day away from playing, then grounded out to second after working the count to 3-2 to end the game.