The Midland RoughRiders defeated the Arkansas Travelers 4-3 at Dickey-Stephens Park on Friday night after the Travs missed a huge opportunity in the bottom of the first inning.
Center fielder Braden Bishop led off for the Travs with a single, then shortstop Chris Mariscal singled to right to move Bishop to second. Next up, right fielder Chuck Taylor singled to center to load the bases with no outs.
Midland pitching coach Don Schulze walked to the mound to talk to right-handed starter Heath Fillmyer. He offered a simple message.
"I just told him, 'You have good stuff. Just keep the ball down there, and you're just one pitch away,' " Schulze said. "I just want to make sure they're calm and they're composed and ready to challenge the next hitter. He did a great job."
Arkansas' opportunity turned to nothing after first baseman Ryan Casteel popped up to catcher Sean Murphy, designated hitter Marcus Littlewood struck out, and third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean flied out to left fielder Tyler Ramirez to end the inning without a run and a 1-0 deficit.
"We know what we have to do," Taylor said. "We have to execute in situations like that, and when we don't, it's frustrating. You know, ain't nobody trying to get out, but it's been like that all year. We just can't seem to execute with people on base. It's why we lose when we lose, and we're better than that."
Taylor, who hit .386 through May, batted a combined .197 in June and July. In his past nine games, he has hit .324.
"In baseball, sometimes you ride that roller coaster," he said. "Right now, I'm just confident. I haven't really changed anything. I'm just confident swinging at good pitches."
Midland took a 1-0 lead with one out in the top of the first inning when center fielder B.J. Boyd hit a home run to right field.
Two more runs came in for Midland in the fourth after Boyd led off with a single, second baseman Max Schrock was hit by a pitch, and Boyd scored on an error by second baseman Nelson Ward after he misplayed a toss from catcher Tyler Marlette when Schrock stole second. Schrock scored on left fielder Tyler Ramirez's two-out single for a 3-0 lead.
Midland's lead was 4-0 after right fielder J.P. Sportman's sixth-inning single scored Schrock from third base.
Arkansas managed a run in the bottom of the sixth inning when, with one out and runners on second and third, Mejias-Brean's sacrifice fly to right field scored Casteel.
The Travs got another bases-loaded chance in the eighth inning. Two walks and a single put Taylor at third base, Littlewood at second, and Mejias-Brean at first with one out. Marlette came through with a two-run single that pulled the Travs to within 4-3, but Midland right-hand reliever Carlos Navas struck out left fielder Willie Argo and second baseman Nelson Ward to stop the rally.
"That's baseball," Taylor said. "We had the same thing early, and we didn't make it happen. When we had it again, we said, 'All right. This is our chance.' We got more locked in, and we kind of had it going for a little bit.
"You know, in a one-run game, it's a game of inches. Baseball's just hard, man."
TRAVELERS VS. ROCKHOUNDS
WHEN 6:10 p.m. WHERE Dickey-Stephens Park, North Little Rock RADIO KARN-AM, 920, in central Arkansas WEBSITE travs.com PITCHERS Travelers: RHP Nick Neidert (0-3, 5.74 ERA); RockHounds: RHP Casey Meisner (4-3, 4.46 ERA) TICKETS $13 box, $9 reserved ($6 kids), $7 general admission ($5 kids). Gates open one hour before start of game. PROMOTIONS Midget wrestling at 5:15 p.m.
THE WEEK AHEAD
TODAY vs. Midland, 6:10 p.m. SUNDAY vs. Midland, 6:10 p.m. MONDAY off TUESDAY at Frisco, 7:05 p.m. WEDNESDAY at Frisco, 7:05 p.m. THURSDAY at Frisco, 7:05 p.m. FRIDAY at Midland, 7 p.m.
Sports on 08/12/2017