Crow, homers bash Trash Pandas to 8-0 victory
Rocket City improves to 10 games over .500 at 33-23
By Aaron Cheris
MADISON – The Rocket City Trash Pandas backed a dominant start from Coleman Crow with a season-high five home runs for an 8-0 win over the Mississippi Braves in front of an electric sellout crowd of 7,500 at Toyota Field on Saturday night.
The win keeps the Trash Pandas one game ahead of the Tennessee Smokies in the Southern League’s North Division standings with 13 games remaining in the first half and moves Rocket City to a season-high 10 games over .500 at 33-23.
From the start, Crow was nearly unhittable. A two-out double did little to deter him in the first before a one, two, three top of the second. Mississippi starter Alan Rangel was also sharp early, striking out four of the first six Rocket City hitters he faced. Ryan Aguilar broke the scoreless deadlock with a towering solo home run to the Inline Electric Rock Porch in right field for the first run of the night.
Pitching with the lead for the first time, Crow continued his brilliance by working around a leadoff single in the third and striking out a pair in a clean fourth. Rocket City doubled the lead in the bottom of the frame when Orlando Martinez led off with a walk and Jeremiah Jackson followed with a double to the gap in left-center, scoring Martinez from first for a 2-0 Rocket City advantage.
Crow quickly retiring the first two hitters in the fifth. Logan Brown then hit a sharp grounder to the right side. Jackson, the second baseman, made a diving stop moving to his left. Seated in shallow right field, Jackson fired to first to get the third out of the inning.
Rocket City blew the game open for good by blasting off in the bottom of the frame. Aguilar led off with his second home run of the night, an opposite field solo shot to left for his first multi-homer game of the season. Braxton Martinez immediacy followed with a solo home run of his own, a high drive that stayed fair inside the left field foul pole for the second set of back-to-back homers for the Trash Pandas this season. Later in the inning, Aaron Whitefield crushed Rangel’s (L, 2-2) 3-0 pitch well over the fence in left for another solo shot, his seventh homer of the season and a 5-0 lead.
Crow set the Braves down in order in the sixth before a leadoff double in the seventh was erased with a strikeout, a ground out, and a foul pop up to end the inning, and his start.
In seven scoreless innings, Crow (W, 4-2) allowed just three hits while walking none and striking out seven to earn his fourth win of the season.
Nick Jones entered in the eighth and walked the bases loaded but survived unscathed after inducing a pop up from C.J. Alexander to end the frame and strand the runners. Jose Gomez delivered the final strike of the night for Rocket City with a three-run homer to left, his third of the season, in the bottom of the eighth.
Aaron Hernandez finished the game on the mound with a clean top of the ninth for Rocket City’s fifth shutout of the season.
Aguilar led the way with his pair of home runs for the Pandas with the pair of home runs, his sixth and seventh of the year, as Rocket City belted a season-high five home runs in the victory. Eight of the nine Trash Pandas starters reached base with either a hit or a walk, with Aguilar and Preston Palmeiro recording two hits while Orlando Martinez added three walks and two runs scored.
The Trash Pandas (33-23) wrap up their series against the Braves (26-30) on Sunday afternoon. First pitch at Toyota Field is scheduled for 2:35 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.
At Sunday’s game, 2,000 adults ages 18 and older will receive a limited-edition Trash Pandas Military themed t-shirt, presented by ManTech. After the game, all kids ages 12 and under are invited to run the bases.