San Antonio in June means one thing and one thing only, heat.
Temperatures rose to the mid-90s as the San Antonio Missions (44-26) hosted the Reno Aces (29-40) in the second in their first ever four games series as Pacific Coast League Rivals.
The Sunday afternoon matchup took place on Father’s Day and one Missions hitter as a particularly interesting ritual with his child. David Freitas has been a terror for opposing pitching staffs this season as he posted a team-high .366 batting average with 32 RBIs and an outrageous .500 batting average with runners in scoring position.
Off the field, Freitas’ calm demeanor is the bane of his four-year-old son Owen’s existence.
“He likes to get me wild up and angry,” Freitas said. “He likes to see my angry face; he thinks it’s funny.”
The mischievous Owen loves to facetime his father and hang up on him consistently just to see his father’s face angry when he immediately calls back.
Freitas’ angry face was on display Sunday during his four-RBI outing to lead the Missions to an 8-3 victory over the Aces.
Aaron Wilkerson toed the rubber for the Missions coming off his worst performance of his career in Las Vegas. Wilkerson only pitched 2/3 of an inning in which he allowed six runs on five hits. His counterpart was Alex Young; a lefthander that bolsters the third highest swing and miss percentage in the league.
In the early innings, the pitching matchup lived up to all of the hype as both pitchers did not allow a run through the first two innings. Wilkerson’s shutout evaporated first as leadoff hitter Abraham Almonte scorched a ball over the right field wall and gave the Aces the early 1-0 lead.
Young’s off-speed pitches were dominating through the first two times through the lineup as he racked up six strikeouts through four innings.
“He was definitely throwing us off a little bit,” Freitas said. “He was throwing a lot of breaking stuff early and we had to make an adjustment. If we didn’t make an adjustment, he was going to get us. I think as a team today we made a good adjustment and we got him.”
Adjustments were made by the Missions however, not before Almonte took his second bite of the apple and hit his second solo home run of the game to double the Aces advantage and make the game 2-0 after the top of the fifth.
The adjustments from the Missions were evident in the fifth inning as the lineup was facing Young for the third time. Jake Hager began the inning with a leadoff double that was followed by three singles. None more important than a chopper hit to first base by speedy Cory Spangenberg who was able to outrun Young and load the bases on what could have been an inning ending groundball.
“Speed Kills,” manager Rick Sweet said. “He’s the fastest guy on our team. Leads our team in stolen bases. Very smart good baserunner. That’s a huge play because that’s a routine groundball. The first basemen backed up, pitcher was slow getting over but if he’s not hustling and he’s pouting, and he drops his head running out of the box then he doesn’t make it.”
This outstanding hustle play by Spangenberg allowed the .500 hitter, Freitas, to use his awkward short swing to crush a ball down the left field line that would score all three runs and leave him with a three RBI double and the Missions with a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth.
“A guy I worked with, Heath Hayes, I worked with in high school and it [His Swing] has evolved over my career,” Freitas said about his unorthodox swing. “I knew that in my career when I was playing every day that I could have a lot more movement. When I had to learn how to be a backup catcher or like last year play once every five days, I had to learn how to be on time when I’m not getting the reps.”
Freitas’ double was just the start of the Missions’ offense breaking for another high run total. The following inning, Hager collected his second hit of the game and allowed pinch hitter Michael O’Neill to drive him in after hitting a double. The following at-bat, Mauricio Dubon collected his third hit of the game which drove in O’Neill and extended the Missions lead to 6-2.
Dubon’s third hit came as the shortstop recorded a three-hit game in back-to-back games for the first time in his career since 2016. The 24-year-old has been a nightmare for opposing pitchers as his averaged has climbed from .250 on April 25th and is now at a stellar .307.
Freitas followed his bases clearing double in the fifth inning by unleashing a moonshot over the left field wall and continuing to extend the Missions lead to 7-2. A double from Yasmany Tomas scored a run for the Aces in the eighth inning but the Missions would answer in the home half of the eight via Nate Orf’s third hit of the day which landed him on second base for a standup double that scored O’Neill from first after an error put him on.
The Missions have now won 32 games in the past two months which has put themselves in the driver’s seat of the Pacific Coast League American Southern division. They hold a two-game league over the Round Rock Express who will visit Wolff Stadium on June 25-28 for a four-game series in what is a critical series for both teams.
The Missions attempt to clinch the series win against the Aces Monday night at 7:05.
- With five doubles in Sunday afternoon’s contest, that is now the most doubles the Missions have hit in a game this season.
- David Freitas and Mauricio Dubon have both extended their hitting streaks to 12 and eight games respectively. Freitas’ streak is the longest of his career and the longest streak for the Missions this year.
- Freitas also drove in four runners today which is his season high.
- The two-home run game from Almonte is the Aces first multi-home run game since Yasmany Tomas did it on June fourth.
- This was game 69 for the Missions, nice.