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 Amarillo Sod Poodles

Chen, Melendez Homer in One-Run Loss to RockHounds

April 9, 2024 - Texas League (TL)
Amarillo Sod Poodles News Release

Midland, Texas - Tied after the fifth inning, the Amarillo Sod Poodles dropped their first game of the series to the Midland RockHounds 4-3 on Tuesday night. A ninth-inning two-out rally placed the tying run 90 feet away for the Sod Poodles who unfortunately left 12 runners on base for the game.

For the first time in the early goings of the 2024 season, the Amarillo Sod Poodles scored the first run of the game. Following a pair of singles to start the contest, an Ivan Melendez walk loaded the bases for the Sod Poodles. With two outs and the bases still loaded, A.J. Vukovich drew the second walk of the inning to score the first run of the night.

Right-hander Dylan File got the start on the bump for Amarillo and proceeded to earn two quick outs to start his outing. A first pitch, two-out solo homer knotted things up at one a-side in the RockHounds half of the first. Similar to Midland's Colby Thomas, Amarillo's S.P. Chen ambushed the first pitch he saw during his second-inning at-bat to regain the lead for the Sod Poodles. Amarillo squandered a scoring opportunity in the top of the third when Caleb Roberts roped a two-out double to keep the inning alive.

After consecutive hits allowed by File in the bottom of the first, he retired eight straight to help maintain Amarillo's 2-1 advantage going into the bottom of the fourth. Consecutive one-out singles and a walk loaded the bases for the RockHounds and a fielder's choice was enough to score the tying run. File helped induce a lazy fly ball to end the threat and bring an end to his Sod Poodles debut.

For the second time in the game, Amarillo loaded the bases and looked poised to re-take the advantage. However, a strikeout left all three Sod Poodles standing on their base still tied at 2-2. Each team would go three up and three down in their next trips to the plate.

With Zach Barnes on the mound for Amarillo, a pair of two-out hits gave the RockHounds their first lead of the game in the bottom of the sixth at 4-2. Conor Grammes was able to come on and strike out the only batter he was asked to face, leaving a runner stranded in scoring position. Melendez cut the deficit in half with his first hit of the season. The two-out solo home run to right field ended a run of six straight strikeouts by Midland pitchers. John Matthews worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh to send the Amarillo bats right back to work.

Each of the first two Sod Poodles in the eighth reached, with a wild pitch moving them both into scoring position still with nobody out. A groundout and strikeout was followed by the second walk issued in the inning to once again load the bases for the Soddies. However, a groundout kept the one-run Midland lead intact. Matthews worked another clean half-inning to send the game to the ninth with the Sod Poodles still chasing a run.

Midland's Grant Holman struck out the first two batters he faced in the middle of the Sod Poodles order. Deyvison De Los Santos and Roberts singled to put runners on the corners and keep Amarillo's hopes alive. Working the count even, a knee-high strike three to Vukovich ended the comeback bid as Midland held on to take the series opener.

Amarillo and Midland will continue the six-game series on Wednesday from Momentum Bank Ballpark. RHP Jamison Hill will take the ball for the first time in 2024 for the Sod Poodles. He'll be countered by a piggyback start from LHP Brady Basso and RHP Blake Beers for the RockHounds. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.


FIRST LEAD: A.J. Vukovich's bases-loaded walk in the top of the first inning on Tuesday night gave the Sod Poodles their first lead of the season. It was also the first time in four games the Sod Poodles had scored the first run of the game. Amarillo was 49-28 in 2023 when scoring first and fall to 0-1 on the new season when drawing first blood.

THE DYLAN FILE(S): Dylan File made his organizational debut, getting the start on Tuesday night in Midland. The right-hander spun 4.0 IP allowing a pair of runs on four hits with three strikeouts in his Sod Poodles debut. It was the fifth time in six tries for his career that the right-hander has begun his season with three or fewer earned runs allowed in his first start of the season. 2019 was the only time where he allowed more than three earned runs in his first start of a season. Even then, he allowed just four earned over five innings with eight strikeouts for the Carolina Mudcats. File was a Mid-Season All-Star in two different leagues during his tenure with the Brewers organization and led all Brewers farmhands in wins (33), strikeouts (387), starts (81), and IP (445.1) from 2018-2022.

S.P.ECIAL DELIVERY: Sod Poodles infielder S.P. Chen launched his first home run of the season to regain Amarillo's lead over the RockHounds. The infielder ambushed the first pitch of his at-bat in the top of the second inning for his first home run since August 12, 2023, on the road in Tulsa. Chen now has three Double-A home runs for his career, two of which have come away from HODGETOWN. For his career, Chen has hit 17 home runs in 260 games.

THE BIG TEXAN: D-backs no. 8-rated prospect Ivan Melendez collected his first hit of the season with a solo homer in the top of the seventh inning on Tuesday night. It was Melendez's first Double-A homer since hitting a solo homer against Arkansas on August 16th, 2023. Melendez took the Texas League by storm when he first arrived post-All-Star break in 2023. The El Paso native hit 12 home runs in his first 25 games, including a home run in each of his first three games in Sod Poodles threads. His seventh-inning dinger snapped a 0-for-11 start to the season with four walks and five strikeouts for the former Texas Longhorn.

POODLES ON THE POND: Amarillo left the bases loaded three times during their loss to the RockHounds in the series opener. Through the first four games of the season, Amarillo has left 32 runners on base, second most in the Texas League to begin in the new campaign. After going 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday, Amarillo is 9-for-42 (.214) with runners in scoring position through the first four games.

K COUNTER: Amarillo was victim to 18 strikeouts against Midland pitchers on Tuesday night. It is the most strikeouts in a nine-inning game by Sod Poodles hitters in franchise history. The previous high was 17 which had been done four times, most recently on August 12, 2023, at Tulsa.

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