The Frisco RoughRiders split the Opening Day doubleheader against the Arkansas Travelers. Frisco was blanked in game one 7-0, but the bats came alive in the back-half of the twin bill, doubling up Arkansas 6-3 Friday night.
After the ‘Riders were retired in order in the top of the first of game one, the Travelers got going quickly in the home half. RoughRiders starting pitcher Cody Buckel walked a pair around a single to load the bases before anyone was retired. On a wild play, a soft line drive to the right side from C.J. Cron scored a run. After Buckel induced a groundball out, Randal Grichuk ripped a line-drive homer over the wall in the left to plate three runs and give Arkansas an early 4-0 lead.
Arkansas added three in the third, but the four first-inning runs proved more than enough for Travelers starter Jarrett Grube. The Texas League’s oldest player at 31 years old set down the first 19 RoughRiders batters in order. In a seven-inning game, the veteran nearly tossed a perfect game and came even closer to a no-hitter. The RoughRiders were gifted their first baserunner in the sixth when Hanser Alberto reached on a Kaleb Cowart error at third. The only hit for Frisco came in the ninth when Jared Hoying launched a ground rule double that bounced over the wall in right, breaking up the no-hitter just two outs shy of the requisite 21. The hit was in vain, however, as Frisco went down in order after the two-bagger to end game one in a 7-0 defeat.
The 2013 debut for Buckel did not go well. The right-hander didn’t get out of the third, allowing seven runs, all earned, taking the loss in just 2.2 innings of work. The Travelers drew five walks and knocked five hits off Buckel before Ryan Rodebaugh took over for him in the third. Rodebaugh began a trend that served as the silver lining in game one, beginning a stretch of 6.1 scoreless innings spanning over the two games out of the ‘pen.
Game two of the doubleheader went much better for Frisco. With one out in the third, Guilder Rodriguez opened the scoring with a solo home run, just his second homer of his career, to give Frisco a 1-0 lead. After falling behind 3-1 in the middle innings, Rodriguez added another, scoring Odubel Herrera in the fifth with an RBI-single to cut the deficit to one. Rodriguez collected three hits in total, going 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored.
The ‘Riders opened things up in the top of the sixth. The first three batters of the inning reached to load the bases with nobody out. Chih-Hsien Chiang struck out but Ryan Strausborger drew the RBI-walk to tie the game a 3-3. Next up, catching prospect Tomas Telis smoked a ball off the centerfield wall, plating three to give Frisco a 6-3 lead that would hold as the final score.
Wilmer Font worked an adventurous final frame, loading the bases with three walks in the bottom of the seventh. He fanned two and got Cron to fly out to nail down his first save of the year.