By: Jose Bouquett (@JoseBouquett)
The lights at Wolff Stadium are buzzing, the smell of fresh kettle corn fills the nose of all the San Antonians roaming around the 50% capacity stadium are happy to see the return of the San Antonio Missions. The Missions’ first weekend back in the friendly confines of the Wolff has been met with the fans’ support but not from their offense.
The weather matched the baseball Saturday night in Wolff Stadium. The soggy night is summed up in two box score columns, LOB and R (Left on Base and Runs for the unaware). If you thought things couldn’t get worse for the Missions, a slick first base might have cost them their star prospect for the next few games
In all five home games to start 2021, the Missions have scored less than four runs every home game in the series thus far and have been outscored 18-7.
The trend held firm in game five of the six-game series. An early run for the RoughRiders in the first via a Bubba Thompson triple and Davis Wendzel single to bring home the run. Hans Crouse took the pill for Frisco and dazzled in his first start since 2019. The No. 9 prospect in the Texas Rangers system had his best stuff in the short amount of time he was in the game. Two innings of no-hit baseball and one strikeout concluded Crouse’s day on the hill.
As the Missions faced the Frisco bullpen, an alarming trend for fans and manager Phillip Wellmen developed.
- In the third inning, the Missions scratched across two base runners with two outs; a strikeout ends the threat.
- In the fourth inning, the Missions load the bases with one out; a flyout to left field ends the threat.
- In the fifth inning, the Missions load the bases with two outs; a strikeout ends the threat.
The RoughRiders padded their lead in the top half of the fifth inning after loading the bases with no outs against left-handed reliever Fred Schlichtholz. Schlichtholz raised the blood pressure of everyone in attendance but danced around the bases, loaded no-out jam with only one run crossing the plate from a Dio Arias sacrifice fly.
San Diego Padres fans held their breath in the home half of the 5th inning as a routine groundout turned scary. CJ Abrams took an awkward step running out a groundball, and seemingly rolled his ankle on the first base bag. With the team trainer’s assistance, Abrams walked off with a limp and would not return. His status is not clear for get-away-day on Sunday.
The Missions clutch hitting continued to elude them in the sixth inning; two more runners find their way on base via a walk and hit-by-pitch with no outs, and yet again, San Antonio could not find a way to get them in, two strikeouts and a flyout to center field end the threat.
Another opportunity presented itself in the seventh inning; a familiar script of a single and a walk gave the Missions two-on with only one out. A productive groundball gave the No. 30 prospect in the Padres’ system, Esteury Ruiz, a chance to be the hero but could only muster warning-track power to end the seventh inning.
The 2-0 score held into the eighth inning with another Mission chance coming in the 8th via a man on third and first with two outs, and yet again, the clutch hit was lacking as 5th inning substitute Olivier Basabe popped out to the right fielder and migrated the game into its final frame.
Frisco added an insurance run in the ninth from the bat of Elier Hernandez to add to their tally and put the game out of touching distance with a fourth run crossing home after a wild pitch from reliever Carlos Belen found the backstop allowing Steele Walker to scamper home and give Frisco an insurmountable 4-0 lead.
14 runners left on base cost the Missions dearly as San Antonio falls to 7-10 and remains in fourth place of the Double-A Central Division. The San Antonio Missions will wrap up their series against the RoughRiders at 2:05 on Sunday.
Game Notes & Thoughts
- Hans Crouse (No. 9 prospect in Texas Rangers system) makes 2021 season debut.
- 2 IP, 1 K, 0 ER, 0 H.
- CJ Abrams (No. 2 Prospect in San Diego Padres System) was injured in the fifth inning.
- 0-3 1 K
- Sellout at 50% capacity, with the 28th of May being the day that 100% capacity is allowed back at Wolff Stadium.
- Michael Curry: 0-1 3 BBs!