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A Pitching Duel Doomed the Barons to Another Late Inning Collapse

May 21, 2022 - Southern League (SL) - Birmingham Barons News Release

Birmingham continued facing top prospects within the Angels' organization on Saturday night. After Sam Bachman on Friday, the Trash Pandas sent Ky Bush out on the mound, and he did not disappoint. However, neither did the Barons' starter, Kaleb Roper. Despite some disappointing starts recently, Roper bounced back and completed his best start all season. For the first time in quite a while, a Barons ball game consisted of solid pitching from both dugouts.

On Roper's eighth start of the season, almost everything went his way. Unfortunately, though, in the top of the third, a fly ball could not be corralled within the outfield's Bermuda Triangle. As a result, Rocket City's Orlando Martinez drove in the lone blemish on Roper's final line. Beyond that one run, Roper dominated on the mound and ended with 5.0 IP (tied for a season-high), 5 H, 2 BB, and 7 SO.

The one problem with such a strong outing was the lack of run production supporting him. Ky Bush himself had a night too. However, in the end, Rocket City's manager, Andy Schatzley, might regret leaving him out there as long as he did. Across his first four innings, Bush surrendered only two hits, but then, in the fifth, one hit came back to ruin everything for him. Specifically, a frozen rope traveling at 106 miles per hour off of the bat of Ian Dawkins that ever so slightly stayed fair launched Birmingham into a 2-1 lead.

Furthermore, doing so gave Roper the opportunity to earn his first win of the season, but that didn't last for too long. Out of the bullpen, the Barons went with Yoan Aybar. Ultimately, command issues got the better of him, as a wild pitch tied the game at two apiece. Although Bush offered up a game-changing homer the frame before, his night did not come to an end. In the bottom of the sixth, with the Barons' top of the order due up, Birmingham felt into some fortune thanks to an infield single and fielder's choice. But then, in a massive shift of momentum, the Trash Pandas turned a phenomenal double play and ended up escaping unharmed.

In the seventh, surprisingly enough, Bush remained on the mound, but not for long. After a leadoff single and a walk soon thereafter, the Pandas went to the pen and ended Bush's night, which, beyond one pitch, was very good. Ky Bush ended with a final line of 6.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, and 6 SO.

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