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Trash Pandas shut out In Birmingham 3-0

BIRMINGHAM – Although the Rocket City Trash Pandas put runners on base time and time again on Tuesday night, they were never able to drive one in and suffered a 3-0 loss to the Birmingham Barons in the opener of a pivotal six-game series at Regions Field.

In the first, the Trash Pandas put two on with two out on singles from Luis Aviles Jr. and David MacKinnon. However, Birmingham starter Emilio Vargas struck out Michael Cruz to end the inning.

The Barons opened the scoring the bottom of the frame against new Rocket City starter Chase Silseth when Xavier Fernandez lifted a sacrifice fly to plate Carlos Perez with the game’s first run.

Silseth rebounded in the second by recording his first three Double-A strikeouts to work around a fielding error by second baseman Carlos Herrera.

Rocket City nearly evened the game in the third. Aviles Jr. led off with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Mitch Nay then lifted a deep fly to center that deflected off the glove of center fielder Yoelqui Cespedes for a double. Trying to score from second, Aviles Jr. was thrown out at the plate by a strong relay throw from Mitch Roman to keep the Barons up 1-0.

Silseth retired the side in the bottom of the third to end his start. In his Double-A debut and second professional appearance, Silseth (L, 0-1) allowed one run on two hits while walking none and striking out three.

The Trash Pandas turned to another new pitcher out of the bullpen in the fourth, with Houston Harding coming in for his Double-A debut. He kept the deficit at the one by striking out a pair in a clean frame.

An inning later, the Barons extended the lead on a two-run homer by Perez off Harding to put the game out of reach for good.

In the sixth, Rocket City again put two on with two out, but Vargas (W, 7-3) struck out Anthony Mulrine to end the inning and keep the Barons up by three.

After Harding got through the sixth, Luke Leftwich pitched the final two innings on the mound for the Trash Pandas in his third straight scoreless outing. In his third professional outing, Harding gave up two runs on five hits with three strikeouts over three innings.

Rocket City put runners on base in both the eighth and ninth against the Birmingham bullpen. Still, Barons relievers Zach Muckenhirn and Caleb Freeman (S, 2) maneuvered out of the jams to finish the shutout for the Barons.

At the plate, Aviles Jr. and MacKinnon each posted a pair of hits in the loss. The Rocket City pitching trio of Silseth, Harding, and Leftwich combined to record six strikeouts and walk none in the loss.

The Trash Pandas (53-50) continue their road series with the Barons (57-52) 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.

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