EVEN KEEL

Missions starter paces 3-0 victory

By Pat Turner

Jerry Keel’s past two days have gone quite well.

Thursday, the Missions pitcher learned he was being added to the Texas League All-Star game after teammate Logan Allen (pitcher) had to miss the event because of an ankle injury.

Friday, Keel showed why he was worthy of the honor. The lefty tossed a three-hitter in 7 1/3 innings in guiding the Missions to a 3-0 win over Midland before a crowd of 7,456 at Wolff Stadium.

“Going to the all-star game is special,” Keel said. “This is the first for me in pro ball. I’m pretty excited about it. Lucky, I have my fiancé here with me and she’ll get to go.”

Friday’s outing was also exciting as Keel turned in the longest outing for the Missions this season. He kept the RockHounds off balance by getting 11 groundouts, while striking out five and walking three.

“I was attacking the hitters,” Keel said. “I was able to get a lot of groundballs. I was gaining confidence. I was trying to get our batters back in there, so they could some runs.”

Keel was in charge from the word go. He gave up a hit in the first when Tyler Ramirez beat him in a foot race to first for an infield single. In between the other two hits, he walked three, but none of the bases on balls came back to haunt him.

In the second, the Missions ended the inning with a double play. After walking Richie Martin in the third, Keel picked off the runner that ended with a wild rundown between shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. and first baseman Josh Naylor.

Keel (6-2) then retired eight straight before surrendering another walk to Martin with two outs in the sixth. A groundout put that threat to rest.

The second Midland hit came in the sixth when Seth Brown lofted a single into shallow right center. Once again, nothing came of it.

The tightest situation occurred in the eighth when Santiago Chavez laced a ground-rule double down the right-field line. Keel followed with a strikeout, but Phillip Wellman decided to let Eric Yardley finish the inning. The reliever did his job.

Brad Wieck had a perfect ninth to pick up his 10th save.

Midland received a strong performance from starter Parker Dunshee (0-1), who was making his official Double-A debut.

Technically, Dunshee started last Saturday against Corpus Christi.

However, rain washed out the contest after 4 2/3 innings with the Hooks holding a 9-8 lead.

Since it was not an official game and all the statistics were erased, Dunshee got a do over.

This time, he fared better, scattering seven hits and striking out nine while allowing three runs in six innings.

The Missions put him in a bind in the second by starting the inning with singles from Austin Allen and Kyle Overstreet. It ended with three consecutive strikeouts.

Dunshee wasn’t as fortunate in the third. He hit Rod Boykin at the beginning of the inning, but that problem was quickly solved when catcher Santiago Chavez threw out the Missions’ baserunner on a stolen base attempt.

Tatis stepped up next and gave the Missions a 1-0 advantage with a blast over the left-field flag pole.

Midland manager Scott Steinmann argued with umpires, claiming the Tatis’ shot went foul. However, the call stood.

The Missions touched Dunshee for two more runs in the fifth with consecutive singles from Boykin, Tatis and Naylor, along with a throwing error.

Thanks to Keel and the bullpen, that was enough run support to seal the deal.

“Jerry Keel had an unbelievable start,” Wellman said. “That is about as good as you can get. When you get spectacular pitching, you get spectacular defense. Those guys were very engaged.”

While the Missions improve to 2-2 in the second half and Midland drops to 0-4, Corpus Christi (4-0) remained perfect with a 4-0 win over Frisco (2-2), despite being limited to four hits. One of those hits, however, came from Randy Cesar, who extended his Texas League record-breaking streak to 39 games with a triple in the eighth. He ended up scoring from a throwing error on the play.

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