Rocket City evens series with M-Braves
By Aaron Cheris
MADISON – Starter Ky Bush was brilliant again, then the bullpen and defense were the difference in a thrilling 3-2 win for the Rocket City Trash Pandas over the Mississippi Braves in front of an energized crowd of 6,090 at Toyota Field on Friday night.
Bush, the Los Angeles Angels’ number four prospect, got the ball for Rocket City and was dominant from the outset, retiring the first nine hitters he faced with five ground outs, three strikeouts, and a fly out.
Rocket City got him some early support off Atlanta Braves number nine prospect Jared Shuster. Livan Soto led off the bottom of the first with a single, stole second, advanced to third on a ground out, and came home with the game’s first run on a sacrifice fly from Aaron Whitefield.
Riley Delgado led off the fourth with a double to become the Braves’ first baserunner of the night. But Bush worked through it with two grounds outs before Braxton Martinez snagged Drew Lugbauer’s line drive for the final out to strand the tying run on base.
The Trash Pandas added a run in the bottom of the frame off Shuster when Orlando Martinez lined a one-out double to left and Preston Palmeiro brought him home with a two-out RBI single to left for the second run of the night.
Mississippi got one back in the fifth on CJ Alexander’s solo home run to center off Bush. That would be all the Rocket City lefty allowed. Three more flyouts got him through the fifth and a one-out single in the sixth wasn’t enough to change the score.
Over six innings, Bush (W, 4-1) allowed one run on three hits with three strikeouts and no walks to earn his fourth win of the season. The win marks Bush’s fourth consecutive quality start and he has allowed three or fewer earned runs in nine of his 10 starts for the Trash Pandas in his first season at the Double-A level.
Kolton Ingram was first out of the bullpen and pitched a clean seventh. Rocket City got a key insurance run in the bottom of the inning on Kevin Maitan’s RBI single to left, scoring Palmeiro with the third Trash Pandas run.
Luke Murphy worked around a one-out walk for a clean eighth. Luis Ledo was next into the game for Rocket City in the ninth and worked into and out of a jam with help from his defense.
Justin Dean led off the ninth with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Ledo (S, 4) then struck out the next two hitters. Down to their last out, the Braves appeared to keep the game going when Alexander singled to right, scoring Dean. But Alexander tried to stretch a single into a double and was thrown out on a perfect throw from Whitefield in right to end the game.
Orlando Martinez was the only Rocket City player to record a multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 in the win while Soto’s stolen base was his fifth of the season.
The Trash Pandas (32-23) continue their series against the Braves (26-29) on Saturday night. First pitch at Toyota Field is scheduled for 6:35 pm 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.
Following Saturday’s game, a dazzling fireworks display will light up the Rocket City sky, presented by Booz Allen Hamilton. Saturday is also Firefighter Appreciation Night, where the Trash Pandas will honor local firefighters throughout the night. Madison and Huntsville Fire Department Fire Trucks will be set up for fans to explore at the Pepsi Gate while a Monrovia Fire Truck will be in the Toyota Outfield Experience.