Missions back to .500

Matt Clark

San Antonio, TX: On Thursday night, the San Antonio Missions faced a struggling Arkansas Travelers team. The Missions, who were looking to get back to .500, started the game with right-hander Jeremy Hefner. With an ERA of 2.94 and a deceiving changeup, he was a good match against the lefty Manuel Flores of the Travelers, who hasn't played to his potential in his last three starts.

The Missions started the game off strong; Andy Parrino and Cedric Hunter both had line drive base hits to center field, putting runners on the corners with Logan Forsythe, the second baseman, up to bat. Manuel Flores balked, which advances Hunter to second and drives in Parrino and the first run of the night for the Missions.

In the second and third innings, The Missions defense was stifling with Hefner retiring nine straight batters. The offense for the Missions was able to produce runners on base but couldn't seem to score any runs. Throughout the game, The Missions stranded 15 runners on base.

"If we are leaving guys on base that means my guys are doing their jobs," Missions manager Doug Dascenzo stated, "As long as we keep hitting well we will find a way to drive runs in. I'd rather have men stranded, than no men on base at all."

Hefner started off the top of the fourth inning by walking Carlos Colmenares. After a sacrifice bunt by Jeremy Moore and a fly ball by Roberto Lopez, Colmenares advanced to third with two outs with center fielder Brian Walker up to the plate. Walker hit a line drive to right field, earning him a RBI and tying the game at 1-1.

Through the next two innings, the game was even with both teams hitting well and making nice plays in the field. In the bottom of the fifth, Taylor Wilding came in to relieve Manuel Flores. Flores ended his night with four walks and one strikeout. Throughout the sixth, Arkansas went three up, three down, and the Missions stranded Christian Colonel on base with Luis Martinez flying out, Sawyer Carroll striking out, and Michael Collins hitting a hopper to second. The offense seemed to quiet down for both teams in the seventh, and continued through the eighth.

Brandon Gomes came in to close out the eighth, relieving Jeremy Hefner after an impressive seven inning performance with only two hits, one earned run, three strikeouts, and an ERA of 1.29.

"This game was important to all of us because we wanted to get back to .500 before the first half of the season ended," Hefner said. "I'm trying my best to put our team in the position to win."

Going into the ninth inning, the Missions put in closer Craig Italiano who walked Roberto Lopez putting a man on first. Brian Walker the Travelers catcher attempted to bunt, popping the ball up in the air right in front of the catcher Luis Martinez who snagged the ball bare handed and threw to first turning a double play in the top of the ninth. The inning ended with Kevin Ramos grounding out to second.

The bottom of the ninth started off with Michael Collins striking out before Jesus Lopez walked on a 3-2 pitch. The next batter Andy Parrino struck out, giving reliever Barrett Browning his fourth strike out. Cedric Hunter was hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second. Jordan Walden came in to relieve Browning in hopes of putting the game into extra innings for the Travelers. Logan Forsythe was walked on a wild pitch with a 3-2 count to load the bases. On a 0-1 count, designated hitter Matt Clark hit a line drive down the first base line to bring in the winning run for the Missions.

"It's a great feeling to win a game, especially the way we did," Clark said. "Three hits in one game gives me a lot of confidence going into tomorrow's game. If we keep playing the way we have, we'll have a better shot at making a run for first place."

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