FRISCO – Good evening RoughRiders fans. I’m in the press box at Dr. Pepper Ballpark and you’d never know a storm was rolling through here 24 hours ago. Should be a good night for baseball and I’ll be here all night blogging the highlights for you.
— Shawn Shroyer
6:05 p.m.: First pitch (a ball from Derek Holland to Nate Sutton). Again, the weather couldn’t be more beautiful. 83 degrees, to be precise. Sutton ultimately reaches on a bunt single, which Holland made an errant throw on to first, allowing Sutton to advance to second.
6:11: Holland finally gets Wil Ortiz to fly out after an 11-pitch at-bat for the first out in the inning. Sutton still on second.
6:16: Holland gets out of the inning with Sutton on third, striking out Corey Smith in a seven-pitch at-bat. You could tell Holland wanted to win the battle bad with the emotions he showed after.
6:21: After his pitcher labored through the first frame, Julio Borbon did his job, working an eight-pitch at-bat, although he eventually flew out to center. Interesting note: both starting pitchers are southpaws who wear No. 36.
6:26: Chad Tracy flies out to the second baseman with Jose Vallejo on second, but at least Holland got a 10 minute break after tossing 23 pitches in the first inning.
6:32: Holland got his second strikeout of the game earlier in the inning and still needed only nine pitches to get out of the second inning.
6:38: The Riders get their second baserunner of the game as a Dustin Majewski sends a hot shot to first base that takes a bad hop off Mark Trumbo’s face. Majewski wouldn’t get past first on the play, though.
6:40: The Riders get their first stolen base of the night as Majewski swipes second with two out and Steve Murphy at the plate.
6:41: Murphy strikes out swinging to drop his playoff average to .154.
6:44: Holland’s feeling it. Strikes out Jordan Czarniecki to start the third frame.
6:45: Did I mention Holland’s feeling it? Six pitches. Two strikeouts in the third.
6:49: So, Holland didn’t strike out the side. He still needed just 12 pitches to bring his offense back to the plate, getting out of the inning on a 6-4 fielder’s choice.
6:50: Some in-game entertainment they have here at Dr. Pepper Ballpark. They were just force feeding (drinking?) lemon juice to babies on the field between innings. Thanks mom and dad.
6:52: With elimination at stake, I’m sure the Riders would rather be lucky than good. They just got really lucky. Tim Gradoville sent a dying liner to Ortiz at shortstop. Ortiz couldn’t get hit glove under it, then airmailed it to his own dugout to advance Gradoville to second base to lead off the inning.
6:58: Well, Ortiz’ double error wasn’t enough. Holland heads back out to the mound with the score still knotted, 0-0. Julio Borbon and Elvis Andrus are now a combined 0-for-4 on the night.
7:02: Strikeout number five for Holland. Got Brian Stavisky this time.
7:03: Arkansas got its first baserunner of the inning with Corey Smith reaching on a bloop single over first base.
7:06: Holland is in the zone. Strikeout number six. Hank Conger. 57 pitches through four.
7:10: Chad Tracy grounds out to Ortiz at short. Frisco’s top four hitters are now 1-for-8.
7:12: Seeing how it’s 0-0 heading into the fifth, I should give Daniel Davidson credit. He’s held the Riders to two hits through four and struck out four after getting Emerson Frostad and Majewski for the last two outs in the fourth.
7:17: Perfect, six-pitch fifth for Holland.
7:20: Could this be the beginning of a Riders rally? Thomas Berkery leads off the fifth with a single through the left side. However, Murphy and Gradoville are up next before the top of the order comes around.
7:26: Case in point: Murphy pop out to second. Gradoville swinging strikeout.
7:31: Borbon earned a walk and a Davidson wild pitch moved Berkery and Borbon up to second and third. That brought Andrus up, who dropped down a bunt. The bunt didn’t surprise the Travelers as much as Andrus had hoped. Davidson pounced on it and got Andrus at first to end the threat.
7:37: No strikeouts, but just eight pitches needed for Holland to complete his sixth inning.
7:42: Not to jinx it, but the Riders have a rally going. Tracy just singled on a blooper to left after a Vallejo walk. Now Frostad is up with no outs. and Vallejo on second.
7:48: Following the Tracy single: Frostad strikeout, Majewski groundout and Berkery strikeout. Score: 0-0 going into the seventh.
7:49: Clayton Hamilton has come in to replace Holland. Holland tossed just 71 pitches in six innings, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out six. His playoff ERA dropped from 0.61 to 0.44.
7:56: Perfect seventh for Hamilton.
7:59: Not to get anyone’s hopes up, but Murphy leads off the seventh with a bunt single and Davidson commits a throwing error to first, advancing Murphy to second. Gradoville up, then the top of the order.
8:02: Three mintues have passed and only one pitched has gone home. Arkansas is either stalling, or confused. Breaking up a team mound visit right now.
8:03: The team meeting did little good. Gradoville bunted to move Murphy over and third baseman Smith tried to nail Murphy to no avail. Now Murphy stands on third and Gradoville on first with no outs and Borbon up. Barrett Browning now in for Davidson on the mound.
8:09: The Riders post their first run and pull ahead, 1-0, as Murphy dashes home on an infield single by Andrus. The Travelers tried to get an out at second, but Gradoville slid in to beat the throw. Two on, one out and Vallejo up.
8:15: The Travelers have been living on borrowed time with their poor defense and a Smith throwing error, which would have gotten Browning out of the inning, ushered in Gradoville and Andrus for the Riders’ second and third runs of the game. Frostad up with two outs and Tracy on second.
8:19: To recap Frisco’s seventh-inning rally: Two hits, neither of which went out of the infield, one walk, which was inconsequential, a sacrifice bunt and a big, big, big throwing error. By my count, the Travelers gave the Riders three extra outs that inning.
8:27: After retiring the first batter of the inning, Hamilton walked Czarniecki and let him go to second on a wild pitch. He might have just lucked out. It appeared he hit Chris Pettit with a pitch, but Pettit offered at it for a foul ball.
8:28: Pettit strikes out swinging.
8:30: Sutton singles to left-center to drive Czarniecki home. 3-1. Hamilton on his way out. Beau Jones on his way to the mound.
8:34: Jones did what Hamilton could not – hit a batter (Ortiz). Two out, one on.
8:36: Stavisky flies out to center to end the inning with no further harm done.
8:37: Fernando Rodriguez in to pitch for the Travelers.
8:43: The Riders are now three outs away from taking the series to a fifth game.
8:44: Brandon Puffer in to pitch.
8:46: If Puffer wasn’t awake, he is now. Smith sent a line drive right at his head to lead off the inning and he snagged it. Two outs to go.
8:48: Puffer got Hank Conger swinging to finish a perfect ninth and earn the save. 3-1 final. Hamilton got the victory. Davidson took the loss. Game 5 tomorrow night at 7 p.m. Dan Denham is going for the Travelers and Neftali Feliz is going for the Riders. Thanks for hanging with me.