Saturday, July 17, 2010

SPORTS>>Travelers battle foes, rain, schedule

Leader sports editor

Not only did the Arkansas Travelers have trouble winning games in their recent homestand, they had trouble getting them started, playing them in regulation or ending them in a timely fashion.

A pregame boxing match, a long rain delay and extra innings played havoc with the schedule during the six-game homestand against the Midland RockHounds and Frisco RoughRiders.

The games marked the last time this year the Travelers, of the Texas League North, will play South Division members Midland and Frisco, much to ballpark employees’ relief.

Arkansas went 2-4 with one victory each over Midland and Frisco. The RockHounds opened the first series with a 6-1 victory in which they did all their scoring on home runs in the first three innings.

The time of game was three hours, five minutes, and that would be the shortest game the Travelers and RockHounds played.

On July 9, after UALR associate athletic director Gary Hogan beat former big leaguer Jose Canseco in the pregame boxing match, it took Arkansas 3:25 to scratch out a 6-5 victory that ended close to midnight.

Another home run gave Midland the early lead, but Arkansas’ Alexi Amarista drove in Tyson Auer with a ninth-inning single to win it.

Jeremy Moore, who has moved into the Texas League’s top 10 in batting, ran his hitting streak to 13 games with three base hits.

Moore made it 14 games with two hits Saturday, but Midland won 6-4 despite committing two errors and being outhit 11-6 in a game that lasted 3:40.

A one-hour, 36-minute rain delay greeted Frisco and Arkansas on Sunday, and the teams followed that with an 11-inning showdown the RoughRiders won when Guilder Rodriguez tripled in a run in the top of the 11th.

Monday’s game was rained out entirely, leading Arkansas general manager Pete Laven to schedule a series-ending doubleheader that began at 5 p.m. Tuesday instead of the standard, single-game start time of 7:10 p.m.

With the games reduced to seven-innings in the Texas League doubleheader format, Arkansas won the first, using a three-run sixth to overtake the RoughRiders. Moore, who extended his streak to 15 games, singled and scored when Julio Perez hit a two-run double and Efren Navarro scored on a sacrifice fly.

But the Travs were held to just three hits while the RoughRiders pounded out 16 in the second game that Frisco won 10-0.

Moore had the game off, preserving his streak, while Frisco’s Elio Sarmiento hit a two-run home run.

The home fans finally got an extended look at this year’s version of pitcher Trevor Reckling, the left-hander and Los Angeles Angels prospect who was reassigned from Class AAA Salt Lake to work on his fastball command after posting an ERA above 8.00.

Reckling, who faced just four hitters because of a biceps cramp in his first outing at Dickey-Stephens Park, went 7 1/3 strong innings but got no decision when he left Sunday’s game after giving up one unearned run, striking out two and walking two.

Reckling is 1-0 with the Travs thanks to a victory at Frisco.

Arkansas also welcomed infielder Ryan Mount back from the disabled list during the homestand. Mount, a second baseman expected to now play more at third, missed 18 games with a shoulder injury.

He hit .249 with seven homers and 28 RBI in 50 games before his injury. Mount was in the lineup for the first game of the doubleheader and was 2 for 3 with a run and two RBI. He was hitless as the designated hitter in the second game.

Arkansas dropped its series opener at Tulsa 17-2 on Thursday night.