San Antonio — The Missions didn’t play pretty, but they pulled out a 5-4 win over Frisco to continue their undefeated May.
Starter Jerry Keel fought for location all night and gave up 10 hits, but ultimately got into the seventh inning and kept the RoughRiders to four runs.
“I tip my hat to him for battling,” said manager Phillip Wellman. “He gave up the 10 hits, but he kept chucking it in there, throwing strikes. He walked one guy. He gave up the two home runs to [Luis] Trevino, who we’re going to watch play on TV one day, but otherwise…”
While the Missions defense has been strong overall, there were a pair of runs that could have been avoided Friday. After Eliezer Alvarez opened the game with a single, Keel had him picked off. But as the Riders’ centerfielder continued to second, first baseman Kyle Overstreet threw wide into left field on a play that was ruled a stolen base. That kept Alvarez on base for the first of Trevino’s blasts.
The Missions got those two runs back in the second, but had a chance to do much more damage. After an infield single by Pete Van Gansen and a Riders error plated two, Auston Bousfield walked to load the bases with no outs for the top of the lineup. But Fernando Tatis Jr., who had ripped a single to left in the first, struck out after going up in the count 2-0, and Josh Naylor bounced into a double play.
The bottom of the lineup did most of the damage for San Antonio. Van Gansen pulled a double and triple into the right field corner and came up with a chance to swing for the cycle in the eighth.
“I was trying for it,” said Van Gansen. “River [Stevens] mentioned it, and then it got in my head a little bit and I was definitely trying.”
The offensive fireworks from the second baseman aren’t what he’s known for, but the 24-year-old from the San Fernando Valley has been on a tear. He’s hit in nine of ten games, including one other three-hit effort.
“Today, Welly was throwing everything in during batting practice, so I guess that helped in the game, but that’s usually not my game. But I was seeing my pitches.”
While the offense may be a surprise – the Cal Poly alum owns a .319/.377/.464 line through 76 plate appearances – Van Gansen’s calling card remains his defense. He started a double play on a slow grounder in the sixth that took a quick feed and a fantastic return from Tatis to convert.
When the Riders put the tying and go-ahead runners on with one out in the seventh, Wellman called on Eric Yardley for a grounder. He quickly obliged, inducing a slow chopper to third.
“It really wasn’t per-se a double-play ball, but Petey Van Gansen turns the double play as well as any second baseman I’ve ever seen,” said Wellman. “He’s right up there with Mark Lemke in my mind of the guys I’ve seen in person.”
Brad Wieck and Jose Castillo followed Yardley’s two-pitch, two-out performance and made sure there was no more drama. Wieck struck out the side and Castillo, gunning for a save on back-to-back days for the first time this year, got two more before ending the game on a grounder to third.
“That’s nasty. 96-97, and then that breaking ball? Oh my goodness,” gushed Wellman about Castillo. There’s a lot of life in his ball.”
After the early single, Tatis was held in check with a pair of strikeouts, but his off-balance grounder to short did plate a run in the fourth. He saw mostly fastballs in his first plate appearance, but then got a steady diet of offspeed stuff the rest of the night. He took six called strikes and only swung and missed at two.
Josh Naylor DH’ed after fouling a ball off his front leg Thursday. The big man took an inside-out approach to punch a pair of singles to left, but was still moving gingerly throughout the game.
For the second time in as many days, the Missions had to shuffle their pitching staff. Dillon Overton went up to El Paso, with Trevor Megill joining San Antonio. Megill, 24, lost all of 2016 to a variety of injuries, but has been unhittable since the start of last year. The big righty has 73 against only eight walks in 45 innings of work. Lake Bachar, who was promoted yesterday, will start for the Missions Saturday.