Rocket City Trash Pandas

Trash Pandas Drop Close One to Barons 3-2

May 17, 2023 - Southern League (SL)
Rocket City Trash Pandas News Release

MADISON, Alabama - In a tightly-contested affair from start to finish, the Rocket City Trash Pandas couldn't get the hit they needed to get back into the game in a 3-2 loss to the Birmingham Barons on Wednesday night at Toyota Field.

Making his first start of the season, Trash Pandas starter Zac Kristofak was sharp. He ended the first with a strike him out, throw him out double play, courtesy of a strikeout of Alsander Womack and a strong throw from Edgar Quero to catch Tyler Neslony stealing second base.

For the second straight night, Tucker Flint helped the Trash Pandas take the lead in the second. Following a leadoff walk by Ryan Aguilar, Flint laced an opposite-field two-run homer to 382 feet to left field, his third home run of the season to open the scoring at 2-0 Rocket City.

Quero helped Kristofak get through the third, catching Jose Rodriguez stealing to end the inning. Birmingham got on the board in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Luis Mieses to plate Tyler Neslony, who began the inning with a double.

Kristofak departed after four innings, allowing one run on four hits with no walks and four strikeouts.

Ivan Armstrong (L, 0-1) was first out of the Rocket City bullpen in the fifth and struggled. A walk and a single put two on to start the inning. Moises Castillo's sacrifice fly tied the game. With two outs, Neslony put the Barons in front with a single to left, scoring Adam Hackenberg for a 3-2 Barons lead. Armstrong suffered his first loss of the season.

Rocket City nearly got even in the sixth when Aguilar walked, stole second, and advanced to third on an error. But Barons reliever Andrew Perez struck out Jeremiah Jackson and Flint to maintain the lead.

Dakota Donovan kept the Trash Pandas' deficit at one with two scoreless innings, striking out a pair. José Soriano retired the Barons one, two, three in the eighth and Kenyon Yovan did the same to keep it a one-run game.

But the Rocket City offense was unable to find the tying run. Birmingham lefty Fraser Ellard struck out the side in the seventh and got the first out in the eighth. Caleb Freeman got the final two outs to hold the lead going to the ninth.

Jackson and Flint signed to start the ninth off Freeman, putting the tying and go-ahead runs on base for the Trash Pandas. The Barons turned to former Angels reliever Nash Walters (S, 1) with the game on the line. Walters got a pop out from Jose Gomez before striking out David Calabrese and pinch-hitter Kevin Maitan to finish the win and earn the save, snapping the Barons' 10-game losing streak.

Flint recorded two of the Trash Pandas' five hits, the only Rocket City player to record more than one hit.

The Trash Pandas (17-18) continue their series with the Barons (12-23) on Thursday night. First pitch at Toyota Field is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio. The game will be broadcast locally on WAAY 31.6, This TV.

At Thursday's game, 4,000 fans of all ages will receive a 2023 Trash Pandas team photo upon entry. From 5-5:45 p.m., select Trash Pandas players will be signing autographs at tables on the concourse, subject to availability. Thursday night is Burgers & Buds Thursday, where fans can get a burger and a Bud or Bud Light for just $12. From 5-7 p.m., fans can enjoy $3 domestic drafts at the Inline Electric Rock Porch and Bill Penney Toyota Plaza as part of pre-game happy hour.

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