Amarillo, TX – The Amarillo Sod Poodles stole a victory from the jaws of defeat on Thursday night, scoring five runs in the final two innings in a 5-4 victory over the Northwest Arkansas Naturals in front of a sellout crowd at HODGETOWN.
Leandro Cedeño tied the game at 4-4 with a grand slam in the 8th inning and Andy Yerzy walked it off on a sacrifice fly that scored Roby Enriquez with one out in the 9th. It was the fourth grand slam and third walk-off victory for Amarillo this season.
RHP Kyle Mora was on the mound to start the game for the Sod Poodles, the first start of his Double-A career. The Naturals did not welcome him kindly, scoring in the 1st inning for the third straight game.
After retiring the first batter, Mora issued back-to-back walks. The runners advanced into scoring position on a double steal, and one scored on a wild pitch. Another walk put runners at the corners, but a flyout and groundout ended the threat.
Mora issued his fourth walk of the game in the 2nd inning but struck out two in a scoreless frame. Tim Tawa reached on a one-out double in the bottom of the inning but was left stranded after back-to-back strikeouts.
Northwest Arkansas extended their lead with two solo home runs in the 3rd. Mora picked up two more strikeouts in the inning, but a leadoff dinger and a 421-foot shot two batters later made it 3-0, Naturals.
LHP Dillon Larsen made his Sod Poodles debut and relieved Mora in the top of the 4th. Larsen tossed a perfect frame in his first inning of work, ending Mora’s first career start at 3.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, and 4 K on 69 pitches. The Soddies offense was slow out of the gate, amassing just four baserunners over the first four innings.
Larsen issued his first baserunner via a hit-by-pitch in the 5th, but the runner was gunned down by the catcher Yerzy while trying to steal second. A flyout ended his second scoreless inning, and he picked up his first Double-A strikeout in a scoreless 6th.
The Sod Poodles went down in order in the 4th, struck out three times in the 5th, and were retired in order once again in the 6th. The bats only had two hits in the first seven innings with nine strikeouts.
Mack Lemieux relieved Larsen in the 7th and surrendered a solo home run to the first batter he faced. He allowed just one hit after the long bomb and pitched a scoreless 8th, capped by a highlight play at third base by Jose Curpa, where he snagged a ground ball and dove to the base to get the force out that ended the inning.
Trailing 4-0 entering the 8th, Amarillo tied the game on one swing via a grand slam off the bat of Leandro Cedeño. After 12 of the previous 13 Sod Poodles had been retired, Yerzy led off the inning with a single. Ti’Quan Forbes joined him on the bases with a pinch-hit single, and Jorge Barrosa loaded the bases on a pop-up single that the right fielder failed to make a play on.
A strikeout made it two outs with the bases loaded, putting the pressure on Cedeño as he entered the batter's box. The first pitch of the at-bat was in the dirt, but the runners were unable to advance. He gave a healthy swing to two pitches and worked himself into a 2-2 count. The count was loaded on another ball in the dirt, but the runners were once again unable to advance. Cedeño then chomped a ball in the dirt foul, but promptly unloaded on the next full-count pitch - blasting a 106 MPH, 406-foot grand slam to tie the game at 4-4.
The fans at HODGETOWN came to life with the late-inning heroics, and Blake Rogers entered the game with an opportunity to send the Sod Poodles into walk-off territory. He tossed a perfect frame and gassed up the crowd with a strikeout looking to end the 9th.
With new life, it was 5-6-7 due up for Amarillo in the bottom of the inning. Tawa popped a fly ball into shallow right field that was dropped by the right fielder, putting him on first on an error. He advanced to third on a single from Tristin English, and Yerzy scored him with a sac fly to walk off the 5-4 victory.
Amarillo had just two hits through the first seven innings but ended up out-hitting the Naturals 7-5. Nobody on the Sod Poodles had multiple hits, but seven recorded a single base knock. The Sod Poodles struck out eight and issued seven walks, and the bats struck out 11 times with one walk.
Off the heels of back-to-back victories, the Sod Poodles will look to keep the momentum rolling in game four against the Naturals tomorrow, July 1, with first pitch at 7:05 from HODGETOWN. RHP Brent Teller will be making his Double-A debut on the mound for Amarillo to face Northwest Arkansas' RHP Noah Murdock (0-2, 9.00 ERA).
SLAMarillo: With the bases loaded and two outs in the 8th inning, 1B Leandro Cedeño tied the game on a 406-foot grand slam to left field. The homer not only tied the game but was also the slugger's 14th dinger of the season, which ties his single-season career-high. Cedeño also claimed the team lead with 48 RBI, and it was the fourth grand slam hit by a Sod Poodle this season. Each grand slam has been hit at HODGETOWN. Amarillo is now one grand slam shy of tying their single-season record of five grandies hit in 2021.
W-andy W-erzy: C Andy Yerzy was a major factor in Amarillo's comeback effort tonight. He led off the 8th with a single and scored on the Cedeño grand slam. His single in that inning came after 12 of the previous 13 Sod Poodles were retired, and breathed life into the bats. One inning later, the native of Canada walked it off with a sacrifice fly that scored Roby Enriquez. Yerzy is now batting .249 on the season with 27 RBI.
Aint Nothin' Like A Walkoff!: Andy Yerzy went just 1-for-3 tonight, but his lone RBI in the bottom of the 9th secured Amarillo's third walk-off of the season. Dominic Fletcher delivered a bases-loaded walk on April 22 against San Antonio and Jorge Barrosa demolished a walk-off home run against the Frisco RoughRiders at HODGETOWN on June 10. The Sod Poodles have been the victim of walk-offs five times this year.
Lockdown Rogers: RHP Blake Rogers was called on in a clutch spot in the top of the 9th with the game newly tied 4-4. In front of a sellout crowd that was roaring with new life after Cedeño's grand slam, Rogers retired the Naturals in order to send Amarillo into walk off territory, capping the outing with a strikeout looking. The third-year Soddie has been the best arm out of the Amarillo bullpen this year, and lowered his season ERA to 2.97 while earning his third win of the year (3-1).
The Mora The Merrier: RHP Kyle Mora made his first career start today in just his fifth appearance in the Diamondbacks organization. He allowed three runs in three innings of work, issuing four walks while being tagged for two solo home runs. He collected four strikeouts as well on 69 pitches. This was Mora’s third appearance of the season for the Sod Poodles, and the former UCLA Bruin now has a 5.40 ERA through 6.2 IP.
Welcome To The Team: After being called up earlier today, LHP Dillon Larsen tossed three scoreless innings in his Sod Poodles debut. He retired the side in his first inning of work, and finished with a line of 3.0 IP, H, 0 ER, BB, and 2 K. Tonight was Larsen’s Double-A debut after being signed by the Diamondbacks on May 13. He attended Central Washington University for four years where he accumulated 133 strikeouts in 91.2 IP, and he pitched with the Lake Erie Crushers of the Frontier League in 2021. Larsen had a 5.87 ERA in 7.2 IP with the A+ Hillsboro Hops before joining Amarillo.