The Missions bats are starting to show some life with runners in scoring position.
The first hint came in Friday’s 8-4 win over Midland with a season-high 12 hits. To prove that outing wasn’t a fluke the Missions produced a season-high run total Saturday in cruising to a 10-3 victory over the RockHounds at Wolff Stadium.
San Antonio didn’t have as many hits as Friday’s outing, but the nine they mustered Saturday was more than enough to get the job done. The majority were of the clutch variety as the Missions scored nine of their runs with two outs.
Three hits produced a four-run rally in the second and three more led to a four-run burst in the seventh, the biggest being a grand slam from Nick Torres. For the finishing touch, the Missions struck for two in the eighth.
Midland totaled 10 hits, but the RockHounds stranded 10 batters as Fabio Castillo (2-2), Ramon Benjamin and Rafael De Paula found ways to battle out of the jams.
“We took advantage of runners in scoring position and got huge two-out hits,” Missions manager Phillip Wellman said. “Getting the nine runs with 10 hits was unbelievable. That is a good thing. We’re getting better as a team. The reason you get better as a team is you get better individually.”
For the Missions, scoring 18 runs in two nights is a big lift after struggling to produce runs much of the season.
“I think we’re starting to feel more comfortable at the plate,” Torres said. “It’s always hard to get things started at the beginning of the season. Guys are starting to put together better swings at the plate. They’re starting to come around. And hitting is contagious.”
Although the Missions had another solid night at the plate, they actually hit a lull after their four-run second erased a 2-0 deficit.
Midland starter Dylan Covey (0-1) recovered from the rough inning and retired 13 batters in a row before leaving in the sixth,
In the meantime, Midland closed the gap to 4-3 with a run in the fourth. The RockHounds put together another threat in the sixth after Carson Blair walked and Franklin Barreto roped his third straight single. Castillo got two outs, but Wellman brought on lefty reliever Ramon Benjamin to pitch to left-handed hitter Brett Vertigan. The moved worked as Benjamin ended the inning with a strikeout.
Then, the Missions got their needed breakthrough in the seventh.
Reliever Trey Cochrane-Gill got two quick outs to extend the total to 15 straight batters retired, but Jose Rodon, who had a two-run single in the second, broke the string with a single. Nelson Ward walked and Auston Bousfeld, who also helped out in the second with a two-run single, was safe on an infield hit, giving Torres a chance to belt his first career slam.
“I enjoyed that,” Torres said. “It was fun. When I hit it I felt I got a good swing. At that point it was a close game and I was just trying to do something to give us some breathing room. When I saw the ball I thought it was going, but you never know at the Wolff. It was good to get the runs and ride some momentum.”
Gabriel Quintana added an RBI single in the eighth and Rondon brought him home with a double.
“This was a big win for us,” Torres said. “Our pitching and defense was good again. It’s been good all year, but at times we haven’t helped out with the bats. When we do that, we’re going to be fine. We have to continue to do our part at the plate.”