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Trash Pandas drop Slugfest to Barons 10-8

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BIRMINGHAM – The Rocket City Trash Pandas were hot out of the gate, but a six-run lead was not enough as they fell 10-8 to the Birmingham Barons in the second game of their six-game series at Regions Field on Wednesday night.

For the second consecutive night, the Trash Pandas jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. Aaron Whitefield led off the game with a single to center, quickly stole second and third, then came around to score the game’s first run on a wild pitch. Jeremiah Jackson walked and later scored the second run of the game on a fielder’s choice ground out from Jose Gomez.

Rocket City added to the score in the second on RBI singles from Whitefield and Orlando Martinez, who stole second base and came home on Preston Palmeiro’s RBI double to right. The Barons got on the board in the bottom of the third when D.J. Burt’s RBI single scored J.J. Muno.

The Trash Pandas continued the attack at the plate in the top of the fourth when Jackson doubled to deep left, plating Orlando Martinez, and Jackson advanced to third on the throw to the plate. Ryan Aguilar capped the inning’s scoring with a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Jackson for a 7-1 lead.

From there, the Barons began the comeback against Rocket City starter Mason Erla. Muno doubled in a pair in the bottom of the fourth to make it a 7-3 game. From there, the Trash Pandas turned to Braden Olthoff out of the bullpen. Jose Rodriguez laced a two-run single to center off Olthoff, cutting the Rocket City lead to 7-5.

Erla was pulled after 3.2 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits with no walks and six strikeouts in a no-decision.

The Barons started the fifth with back-to-back singles from Craig Dedelow and Yoelqui Cespedes. Two hitters later, Ian Dawkins connected on a three-run homer into the Rocket City bullpen in left against Olthoff, giving the Barons their first lead of the night at 8-7.

The score remained 8-7 going to the eighth, when Rocket City loaded the bases on a single and two walks against Barons reliever Fraser Ellard. Gomez then laced a one-hopper to shortstop. Trying to get the out at second, Muno flipped to second, but it was too late to get Jackson, allowing the tying run to score and Gomez to reach first with a single, evening the score at 8-8.

Birmingham retook the lead in the bottom of the eighth against Olthoff on Rodriguez’s two-run single to left, restoring the advantage for the home team at 10-8.

In the ninth, the Trash Pandas were unable to mount a final comeback against Birmingham closer Edgar Navarro (S, 2) as the Barons evened the six-game series at a game apiece.

On the mound for Rocket City, Olthoff (L, 1-2) took the loss, giving up six runs on eight hits with one walk and four strikeouts while pitching the final 4.1 innings.

Braxton Martinez led the way for the Rocket City offense with three hits including a pair of doubles while Palmeiro, Whitefield, and Orlando Martinez each added two hits. Whitefield also stole three bases in the loss, increasing his Southern League-leading total to 22 for the season.

The first-half North Division Champion Trash Pandas (40-25) continue their series with Barons (28-37) on Thursday night. First pitch at Regions Field is scheduled 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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