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Trash Pandas bullpen baffles Barons in 5-2 win

MADISON – With an early outburst at the plate and a dominant night from the bullpen, the Rocket City Trash Pandas earned a 5-2 win over the Birmingham Barons in the opener of their six-game series on Tuesday night at Toyota Field.

Rocket City broke the scoreless deadlock with a second inning. Dalton Pompey reached with a one-out walk and Anthony Mulrine doubled to put two on. Luis Aviles Jr. drove in the first run of the night with a single to left. Ray-Patrick Didder followed with a sharp single off the glove of Birmingham shortstop Romy Gonzlaez to score Mulrine with the second run of the inning. A wild pitch from Barons reliever Felix Paulino plated Didder before the Barons got out of the jam.

An inning later, Pompey laced a two-out single to keep the frame going. Mulrine then crushed a two-run blast 368 feet over the left field fence for his third home run of the season and second against the Barons to make it a 5-0 game.

Following a 16-mintue rain delay, Rocket City starter Kyle Tyler returned to the mound in the fourth and retired the side in order to maintain the lead. But the Barons fought back for a pair of runs in the fourth on a two-run single from Gonzalez to cut the Rocket City lead to 5-2.

That would be the end of the start for Tyler. Over 4.1 innings, the Rocket City righty gave up two earned runs on five hits with four walks and five strikeouts.

Keith Rogalla (W, 1-2) entered and recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning and strand a runner on base. He returned in the sixth and struck out the side to maintain the three-run lead. He would earn his first win of the season for the strong outing.

Southpaws Connor Higgins and Kolton Ingram each pitched a scoreless inning to earn a hold.

In the ninth, Oliver Ortega (S, 5) worked around a single to keep the Barons off the board and earn the save and finish the victory.

At the plate, Aviles Jr. and Mulrine each recorded two hits in the win while Pompey and Mulrine each scored a pair of runs.

The Rocket City bullpen quartet of Rogalla, Higgins, Ingram, and Ortega combined to pitch the final 4.2 innings without giving up a run and striking out seven to end the win as the Trash Pandas improved their record back to .500 for the season through 70 games.

The Trash Pandas (35-35) continue their series with the Barons (39-33) on Wednesday night. First pitch at Toyota Field is set 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 also be televised locally on WAAY-31.6, This TV.

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