Friday, April 08, 2011

SPORTS>>RockHounds pummel Travelers behind grand slam

Leader sports editor

The Arkansas Travelers suffered a rocky start at the hands of the Midland RockHounds on Thursday.

Midland pounded Arkansas 10-2 before a paid crowd of 6,311 in the Texas League season opener at Citibank Ballpark in Midland. Michael Spina hit a tie-breaking grand slam in the fifth inning on his way to a 3-for-4 night while the RockHounds staff held the Travelers’ offense largely silent.

Arkansas managed just four singles and struck out 11 times against four Midland pitchers. Second baseman Ryan Mount got two hits and was the only Traveler with more than one.

Los Angeles Angels top prospect and Travelers center fielder Mike Trout was 0 for 3 in his Class AA and league debut.

“Expectations and goals and numbers, I don’t talk a whole lot about it,” first-year Travelers manager Bill Mosiello said. “You guys would think I’m crazy if I were to tell you what I really anticipate.

“I’m not going to talk about ‘Hey we’re going to win 80, 100 games’ because I’m not going to give up any games. When we lose a game we’ll go from there and if we lose another one we’ll go from there.”

Arkansas reliever Tim Kiely (0-1) pitched two innings and suffered the loss on opening day for the second year in a row.

With the score 2-2, the right-hander took the mound for what turned out to be the decisive fifth, and third baseman Luis Jimenez bobbled Tyler Ladendorf’s leadoff bouncer for an error.

Jermaine Mitchell singled to left field before Kiely got Grant Green to line out to right field. Shane Peterson drew a walk to load the bases for Spina, who was making his Class AA debut and crushed a first-pitch fastball for a line-drive grand slam to left field to give Midland a 6-2 lead.

Dan Sattler relieved in the seventh and surrendered four Midland runs on five base hits in just two innings.

The Travs scored a pair of unearned runs in the second inning off Midland starter Graham Godfrey.

Third baseman Stephen Parker threw wildly, pulling Spina off first base allowing Marvin Lowrance to reach to begin the inning. Mount hit a one-out single, and Angel Castillo walked to load the bases.

Alberto Rosario drove in Arkansas’ first run of the season with a sacrifice fly to bring Lowrence home.

Jay Brossman followed with a hit-and-run single through the right side to drive in Mount for a 2-0 lead.

Travs starter Garrett Richards was strong through three innings allowing just a single and a walk, but he struggled in the fourth as the first five Midland batters reached base.

Richards surrendered a leadoff homer to Green on a 2-0 pitch followed by a hard single by Peterson.

Losing the strike zone, Richards walked the next three batters including a walk to Jeremy Barfield with the bases loaded to force in the tying run.

Richards held it at 2-2 by getting Matt Sulentic on strikes then induced Petey Paramore to ground into a double play.

Richards lasted four innings, allowing two runs on three base hits and four walks along with four strikeouts.

Godfrey was charged with two runs on three hits, a walk and six strikeouts over four innings before running out of pitches.

He retired seven of the last eight batters he faced before turning the game to the ’Hounds bullpen.

Mickey Storey (1-0) threw two no-hit innings to earn the victory while Neil Wagner added two more shutout innings with one hit and three strikeouts.

Trey Barham pitched a scoreless ninth. Midland’s pitching staff retired 21 of the last 24 Travs hitters.

Arkansas and Midland, the Oakland Athletics affiliate that reached the Texas League Championship Series last year, were back in action at Citibank Ballpark on Friday night.

The Travelers have their home opener, also against Midland, on Thursday at Dickey-Stephens Park.