Bullpen, Bats boost Trash Pandas past Barons 8-5
BIRMINGHAM – Behind the strength of a seven-run third inning and a brilliant performance from the bullpen, the Rocket City Trash Pandas rallied for an 8-5 win over the Birmingham Barons in the opener of their six-game series at Regions Field on Tuesday night.
For as well as the night ended, the game began in an inauspicious fashion for the visitors.
In the bottom of the first, the Barons got on the board as Micker Adolfo launched a three-run homer to left off Trash Pandas starter Chris Rodriguez with nobody out. The outing would be a shot one for Rodriguez, who was removed after giving up three earned runs on four hits while recording only the first two outs of the game. Reliever Kyle Molnar got the final out of the first inning.
Boomer Biegalski entered in long relief and kept the Barons bats quiet in the second before the Trash Pandas offense responded. Ray-Patrick Didder led off the third with a single, Anthony Mulrine was hit by a pitch, and Torii Hunter Jr. walked to load the bases.
With the bases full, reigning Double-A South Player of the Week Luis Aviles Jr. lined a double to center, scoring Didder and Mulrine to make it a one-run game. Two hitters later, Orlando Martinez singled Hunter Jr. home with the tying run. Mitch Nay followed with a walk to reload the bases. Izzy Wilson then delivered the decisive blow with towering grand slam 386 feet to right field to give the Trash Pandas a 7-3 lead. The grand slam is the third in Trash Pandas history and first on the road, as well as Wilson’s league-leading 15th home run of the season.
In the fourth, hometown hero Mulrine added to the Rocket City advantage with a solo shot down the left field line for his second home run of the season. Mulrine played collegiately at Samford University in Birmingham from 2017-19.
Pitching with the lead, Biegalski shined. Over 5.0 strong innings, he gave up just one run one four hits with no walks and tied a season-high with nine strikeouts to earn his third victory of the year. The one run came on a home run from Romy Gonzalez in the fifth.
Oliver Ortega was next out of the bullpen in the seventh and posted his sixth straight scoreless outing with 2.0 clean innings. Nathan Bates gave up a run in the ninth but finished the win for Rocket City.
At the plate, Wilson’s grand slam led the way while Mulrine went 1-for-2 with the solo home run, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch in his return to Birmingham. Overall, the Rocket City bullpen pitched the final 8.1 innings and gave up just two runs on six hits with no walks and 11 strikeouts to secure the win.
The Trash Pandas (29-30) and Barons (31-29) continue their series on Wednesday night. First pitch at Regions Field is set for 7:05 p.m. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio.