Catfish Blend Timely Hits, Strong Pitching to Defeat Rockabillys 4-2
JACKSON, TN (July 6) – A two-run homer, strong pitching and late inning heroics helped the Cape Catfish defeat the Jackson Rockabillys on the road Thursday night 4-2.
The win gave Cape an overall record of 24-8, good for the best record in the 17-team Prospect League. The Catfish are also 2-2 in the league’s second half, putting them a half-game behind the Thrillville Thrillbillies in the league’s Prairie Land Division. The Thrillbillies from Marion, Illinois, currently have a second-half record of 2-1.
Their loss Thursday night dropped the Rockabillys to 12-20 overall and 1-2 in the second half of the season.
Catfish starting pitcher Raymond Ochoa got off to a strong start Thursday night, striking out the first two batters he faced in the 1st inning. But then he gave up a double down the third base line to Jackson left fielder Luke Lowery from East Tennessee State. Lowery would subsequently score on a single to right by Rockabilly third baseman Carter Vrabel, son of Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel.
Meanwhile, the Catfish put at least one runner on base in each of the first three frames, but it wasn’t until the 4th inning when, with two outs on a runner on first that Tucker Stockman unloaded on a high pitch from Jackson starter Tyler Smith and sent it way over the “Blue Monster,” the tall left field wall at Rockabilly Stadium. It was the first long ball of the season for the freshman at the University of Southern Mississippi and gave the Catfish a 2-1 lead.
Ochoa, a sophomore at Mineral Area College from Ellsinore, Missouri, left the game after the 5th inning, having allowed just three Rockabilly hits and issuing one base on balls while striking out nine Jackson batters. He was relieved by Missouri State’s Curry Sutherland who pitched a scoreless 6th and 7th, striking out three while allowing a single and a walk with both runners stranded on base.
But in the bottom of the 8th, Sutherland loaded the bases on a walk, a bloop single and a hit batter. With no outs and the bases jammed, Sutherland was replaced on the mound by Noah Gadberry from Delta State University. He was able to induce a grounder to second that turned into a 4-6-3 double play. However, the runner at third was able to score, tying the game 2-2.
For the second straight night, the Catfish and Rockabillys found themselves in a tie ballgame heading into the 9th inning. Catfish center fielder Chris Hall (Lincoln Memorial University) led off the top of the frame with a walk, left fielder Justin Carnici (Mineral Area College) legged out an infield single and an error by Vrabel at third put Catfish first baseman Landon Godsey (Belmont) on first to load the bases. The next batter, Cape third baseman Lane Crowden (Southern Indiana) lined a single to left, driving in Hall and Carinci to give the Catfish a 4-2 lead.
That turned out to be the final score as Jordan Riley from the University of Nevada got the final three outs for the Catfish in the bottom of the 9th inducing three ground ball outs for his third save of the season. Gadberry was the pitcher of record for the Catfish, pitching a scoreless 8th inning to earn the win, bringing his record to 3-2. Jamal Allen from Dillard University was the losing pitcher for the Rockabillys, allowing the Catfish to score their third and fourth runs in the top of the 9th.
The Catfish amassed nine hits while committing no errors while the Rockabillys were limited to five hits – four singles and a double – and were charged with two errors.
Cape returns to action Friday, facing the Alton River Dragons at Capaha Field in Cape Girardeau in a 6:35 p.m. game. Tickets are available online through the Catfish website, www.capecatfish.com.
GAME NOTE: Chris Hall has reached base at least once – with one or more hits and/or walks – in all 27 of the games he has appeared in for the Catfish this season, including three times Thursday night against the Rockabillies. The only games he has not reached base have been the five games in which he didn’t play. He is also among the Prospect League leaders in stolen bases with 26 (including one Thursday night) and has scored 41 runs – including the winning run Thursday – to lead the league in that category.