Trash Pandas shut down Biloxi bats in 3-1 win
Four pitchers hold Shuckers to three hits in road victory
BILOXI, Mississippi – Four Rocket City Trash Pandas pitchers were dominant on the mound, and new catcher Logan O’Hoppe delivered another clutch homer for a 3-1 victory over the Biloxi Shuckers in the third game of their six-game series on Thursday night.
With the victory, the Trash Pandas became the first Southern League team to reach 60 wins for the season as the pitching quartet combined to hold Biloxi to just three hits.
The Trash Pandas wasted little time in opening the scoring against Biloxi southpaw Robert Gasser. Livan Soto began the game by taking a walk. Zach Neto followed with a hard ground ball into the left field corner for a double and his first Double-A hit, allowing Soto to come all the way home with the first run of the night.
Biloxi got it right back in the bottom of the first off Trash Pandas lefty Ky Bush. With two outs, Andruw Monasterio drew a walk. Cam Devanney then laced a double to the gap in left-center, plating Monasterio from first with the tying run.
That would be the only run Gasser allowed, as he was removed after four innings, giving up the one run on one hit with three walks and five strikeouts.
Against reliever Arlando Hernandez in the fifth, the Trash Pandas offense went to work with two outs. Neto kept the inning alive with a single to left. O’Hoppe continued his torrid pace at the plate with a two-run homer 391 feet to left for his fourth home run in five Rocket City games and a 3-1 Trash Pandas lead.
Bush worked into trouble in the bottom of the inning, walking two and departing with two out and two on. Sean McLaughlin entered and allowed an infield single to load the bases. He got out of it by striking out Tristen Lutz to keep Rocket City in front.
In his second start since pitching in the All-Star Futures Game at Dodger Stadium in mid-July, Bush gave up one run on two hits with four walks and five strikeouts over 4.2 innings. McLaughlin continued and got a one, two, three sixth inning. Luke Murphy was next into the game in the seventh and fired two hitless innings with a walk and two strikeouts.
In the ninth, closer Eric Torres (S, 15) induced a fly out from Devanney to start the frame. Thomas Dillard walked to bring the tying run to the plate. Torres got Felix Valerio on a line out to right and Yeison Coca struck out swinging, finishing the victory to increase Torres’ Southern League-leading save total to 15.
McLaughlin (W, 2-3) would earn the win, his first since April 26, with 1.2 clean innings and Murphy’s scoreless inning would become his 10th hold of the season, tying him with teammate Kolton Ingram for the Southern League lead. Torres’ 15th save made him the first Angels Double-A closer to reach 15 saves since Cam Bedrosian in 2014.
Playing in his second Double-A game, Neto paced the Rocket City offense by going 3-for-5 for his first professional multi-hit game, adding a run, a double, and a RBI. O’Hoppe went 2-for-3 with the game-winning two-run homer, his 19th overall on the season between Rocket City and Double-A Reading in the Phillies’ system. From the cleanup spot, Sonny DiChiara went 1-for-4, extending his on-base streak to nine to begin his professional career.
The Trash Pandas (60-45, 19-17 second half) and Shuckers (52-51, 18-18 second half) continue their series on Friday night. First pitch at MGM Park is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio.