By Pat Turner
Tuesday was an opportunity for the Missions to put a disastrous first half to rest with a fresh start in Texas League play.
Although round two brought a new beginning, the misfortunes from the previous half remained the same. South Division first-half winner Corpus Christi delivered the misery by continuing its dominance over the Missions with a 5-1 victory at Wolff Stadium.
In registering their 12th straight victory over San Antonio, the Hooks did most of their scoring quickly, erupting for four runs in the first. At the same time, Corpus Christi’s pitchers shined.
Evan Grills (2-1) hurled a four-hitter through the first six innings, while Ryan Thompson and Eric Peterson held the Missions hitless the final three stanzas.
For the Missions, the early first inning struggle was the true indication a rough night was coming.
Aaron Northcutt (1-1) got into an immediate jam by loading the bases with a walk, a hit batsman and bloop single from Mott Hyde, J.D. Davis stroked a run-scoring single to left and an infield hit by Nick Tanielu plated the second run. Davis then raced home on a wild pitch.
Northcutt came back to get two outs, but the Hooks received another gift when catcher Miguel Del Castillo’s dropped pop brought the fourth run home.
“We’ve been setting the tone early the past few games,” said Hyde, who went 3 for 4. “Our pitching hasn’t let them back in the game. Our pitching has been good all year. We have enough confidence in our pitching to know if we can score a couple of runs the game’s pretty much over.”
That was the case this night.
Corpus Christi stayed quiet until the ninth when Hyde delivered a run-scoring double.
The Missions got a run in the second inning, but had a chance to do more. Nick Torres and Nick Schulz opened with back-to-back singles. Following a fielder’s choice where Torres moved to third, Gabriel Quintana bounced a grounder toward third base.
Before the ball slipped through for a single, Davis made the snag and zipped a throw to first for the out. Torres was able to get home on the play, but Grills followed with a strikeout to end the Missions’ at-bat.
The Missions went down without much fight the next three innings, but they got something promising going with two outs in the sixth, Torres singled and Schulz walked, enabling San Antonio to bring the tying run to the plate.
The Hooks lefty got Taylor Lindsey on a grounder to second to put an end to the Missions’ hopes.
Those heroics, coupled with the pitching, showed why things are going well for the Hooks, who own a six-game winning streak.
“We started the season slow,” Hyde said. “We started to settle in and overcome that first batch of nerves. From the beginning I knew this team was like an All-Star team. It wasn’t a matter of putting it together. It’s not just one person. Everyone is carrying their weight.”